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Garden Bridge to undergo full judicial review

Judge says council omitted crucial information in granting planning permission

A judge has ruled that Lambeth council may have ignored potential funding gaps and omitted other information in granting planning permission for the Garden Bridge, reports The Guardian. The Garden Bridge Trust insists that construction work must begin by the end of the year to avoid a clash with the Thames Tideway Tunnel, but the project’s fate now hinges on a judicial review, which is likely to be heard in the High Court in June.

The legal challenge was brought by Michael Ball, a former director of Waterloo Community Development Group (WCDG), a community planning organisation. Ball says that some of the best views of the City and St Paul’s Cathedral will be compromised by the proposed £175m bridge and Mr David Forsdick QC, acting on his behalf, said that maintenance and funding issues needed to be addressed before the bridge could be built.

Mr Justice Ouseley apparently agreed, ruling that Lambeth may have ignored potential funding gaps while omitting that should the Garden Bridge Trust go bankrupt, the public sector would have to pick up the maintenance bill. In this regard, he reserved specific criticism for Boris Johnson, accusing the mayor of making statements on the subject that could be understood “neither in terms of English, nor of what Mr Johnson intended”.

“The maintenance cost will not be borne by the public sector, I’ve made that clear,” Johnson told LBC radio. Yet in a letter from one of his senior staff to the Garden Bridge Trust, which has been seen by the Guardian, it seems that the public will be liable for the bridge’s annual £3.5m maintenance bill – this on top of an initial £60m towards construction costs. Furthermore, with only £65m raised from donations, the Garden Bridge Trust is still £50m short of construction costs at this point.

Joanna Lumley says that she is the person responsible for the decision to exclude cyclists from the proposed Garden Bridge, arguing that their presence would prevent it from being ‘a peaceful place to walk’. The bridge will also be closed between midnight and 6am with groups of more than eight people having to apply for permission to visit.

In contrast, a new bridge across the Thames which has been proposed a little way downstream will be designed with cyclists in mind. The 74 teams from around the world who entered a design competition for the bridge linking Nine Elms and Pimlico were explicitly asked to provide ‘a smooth and safe experience for the pedestrians and cyclists who use it’.

The submissions have now been whittled down to a shortlist of four. Wandsworth Council expects to announce the winning design this autumn. A study by Transport for London found that there was a strong transport case for providing a new crossing over the Thames in this area and the bridge is therefore intended to be a transport route, not a tourist attraction.

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

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