London mayor Sadiq Khan has withdrawn support for Heatherwick Studio’s Garden Bridge design to begin construction, throwing the future of the project into jeopardy. In a letter sent to the chair of the Garden Bridge Trust he states that the project has “significant hurdles” to overcome before the planning permission expires in December 2017, and is therefore not providing the Mayoral guarantees that would allow the project to happen.
An estimated £37.5m of public money has already been spent on the project’s development.
In his letter, Sadiq outlines the “aggressive schedule” of activities that would have to happen for the bridge to be built. These include reaching agreements on the land use, for which some negotiations have been going on for three years without a result, and the necessary capital funds being raised, of which under half has been secured.
“Pledged funds being lower than two years ago strongly suggests that support for the project is not robust enough to generate the required funds,” he states. “And of course a pledge is not the same thing as a payment into your account.”
He also notes that a review by Dame Margaret Hodge predicted the project would need more public money to complete the construction, and he “would not allow additional taxpayers’ funds that I control to be spent on this project.”
A Heatherwick Studio spokesperson said: “We still believe in the immense public value the Garden Bridge will bring to London and hope to see its mission to create an open-to-all public amenity on the river completed.”