Garden Bridge receives backing from Boris Johnson and Kew Gardens

London’s Garden Bridge scheme has received a timely backing from several arts, business and horticultural leaders the day after the issue was discussed in the Mayor’s Question Time at City Hall.

The scheme plans to provide a public garden and pedestrian crossing spanning the River Thames, linking the South Bank to Temple station.

Designed by Heatherwick Studio, who are situated in Kings Cross, the bridge will feature plants, trees, woodland and walkways.

Marcus Agius, Chairman of the Trustees of the Royal Botanic Garden in Kew, said: “The Garden Bridge is a brilliant way to capture London’s 21st century zeitgeist.

“It will also provide a compelling opportunity to connect residents and visitors of all ages with the crucial importance of plants.”

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Professor Deborah Swallow, director of The Courtauld Institute of Art was similarly enthusiastic.

She said: “We believe that the Garden Bridge will provide a huge boost for our local businesses by attracting many more visitors to this area and putting The Courtauld, Somerset House and the Northbank firmly on the map as one of the must visit locations in London.”

Ruth Duston, chief executive of the Northbank Business Improvement District believes the bridge will have a huge effect on transport in the space.

“The Garden Bridge will be transformational in how people move around this area,” she said.

“The new crossing will be a landmark in London, connecting two of the capital’s historical and cultural hubs – the north bank and the South Bank.”

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London Mayor Boris Johnson faced criticism over the plan at Tuesday’s Question Time, especially from Liberal Democrat leader Caroline Pidgeon who questioned the choice of Heatherwick Studio as designer over more experienced bridge designers.

Heatherwick were chosen by Transport for London in 2013 over architects Wilkinson Eyre, who have designed more than 25 bridges, and Marks Barfield.

But Mr Johnson emphatically denied any criticism, saying: “Michelangelo probably never built a Duomo before he did the Sistine Chapel, so it’s a ludicrous argument.”

The Garden Bridge will be largely funded by donations from individuals, charitable foundations and companies, with the Treasury and TfL each pledging £30million of public funds.

The Mayor was quizzed at City Hall and assured London Assembly members that the funding would only be released when the GLA was satisfied that the Garden Bridge Trust had a viable and long-term plan for paying maintenance costs.

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Paul Morrell, deputy chairman of the Garden Bridge Trust, was confident with plans going forward.

“It is great that so many major institutions and future neighbours recognise and support the benefits the Garden Bridge will bring,” he said.

“This reinforces our confidence in a strong future for the project and our enthusiasm for continued work alongside local communities to ensure those long term benefits are enjoyed by all.”

The Garden Bridge Trust released a press statement today that said: “A tender has now gone out for the procurement, planting and maintenance of the plants on the Garden Bridge.

“The contractor will bring on board the expertise of dedicated and specialist planting experience, working alongside Dan Pearson Studio as the landscape designers as well as the Head Gardener.

“Together they will ensure the gardens become well established and thrive throughout every season.”

Images courtesy of Arup, with thanks

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