Garden Bridge Update March 2016
The Garden Bridge is a proposed new pedestrian crossing spanning the River Thames linking South Bank to Temple station, designed by Thomas Heatherwick and garden designer Dan Pearson. The South Bank ‘landing’ is on part of the Riverside Walkway by ITV which is leased to Coin Street Community Builders. The freehold is owned by the London Borough of Lambeth.
The planning decisions will, rightly, be taken by elected authorities. Coin Street Community Builders has focussed on how the bridge could benefit the area (by increasing the green public realm and improving pedestrian links to the north bank) and the measures that would be needed to mitigate its impact. We have considered the opportunities, challenges and threats it would create to our overall vision for our neighbourhood.
We understand that it is a controversial project and there are some people in our community who are fundamentally opposed to it. We have listened to the opinions and concerns of those who are most likely to be affected by the Garden Bridge project, including tenants, businesses and people who use our facilities.
On balance we believe that the Garden Bridge would be beneficial to London and our neighbourhood if it is properly managed and maintained. However, if not, it will be a liability.
We have concerns about the proposed development which we outlined in our letter to Lambeth planning committee in November 2014.
Quite apart from the planning process, we are determined to use our position as landowner to keep any disruption to a minimum and ensure that any development delivers the promised benefits – such as remaining free to members of the public. That’s why it’s important we keep control of the land.
Lambeth has recently issued proposed heads of terms that would permit construction of the Garden Bridge. We will consider these proposals but we will not give our consent to the proposals unless we are satisfied with:
- the construction plan
- the design and uses of the south landing building
- arrangements for the long-term management and maintenance of the bridge and south landing building
- pedestrian and vehicular access and servicing, including waste disposal
- arrangements in respect of the management and maintenance of the public realm in the vicinity of the bridge.
We recognise that those opposed to the Garden Bridge would rather we said ‘no’ on the basis that it should not get public money or that Lambeth and Westminster Councils and the Mayor of London are wrong to grant it planning consent. However we do not think that it would be appropriate for us to ‘usurp’ the investment and planning decisions of elected bodies in this way.
However we believe that we have both a right and duty to ensure that the scheme only goes ahead if we can be satisfied that the promised benefits are delivered for the community we serve and its impacts mitigated.
We won’t let the Garden Bridge project and the controversy surrounding it take our focus away from the bigger picture – creating a better place to live, work and visit for our community.