A digital rendering of the Garden Bridge. Image: ARUP.

London’s Garden Bridge Venture Jettisoned After $48 Million Thrown into Project

Despite $48 million of public funding already spent on the Thomas Heatherwick–designed Garden Bridge project—a plan for a green pedestrian thoroughfare that was supposed to connect the north and south banks of London’s River Thames—the venture is officially being jettisoned, writes Roslyn Sulcas of the New York Times. The city’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, who inherited the scheme from his predecessor Boris Johnson, refused to put aside money for the bridge’s annual maintenance costs, which would have amounted up to $4 million. Mervyn Davies, the chairman of the Garden Bridge Trust, said that Khan’s unwillingness to fully embrace the project, which in total was estimated to cost $260 million, had made it impossible to secure the necessary funding for the plan to continue. Khan was against the Garden Bridge idea well before assuming his mayoral post.

The idea for the bridge first came from the actress Joanna Lumley, who received Johnson’s support in 2012. The chancellor of the exchequer at that time, George Osborne, then put aside $78 million of public money for it. The remainder of the project’s costs was to be brought in from corporations and other various benefactors. But a review to determine whether or not the bridge was worth any more financial support from the government, ordered by Khan last September, concluded that it indeed did not, and recommended that the project be shut down.

The design called for 270 trees and more than 100,000 different plants to fill the 1,200-foot-long bridge. “The Garden Bridge would have been a unique place; a beautiful new green space in the heart of London, free to use and open to all, showcasing the best of British talent and innovation. It is a sad day for London because it is sending out a message to the world that we can no longer deliver such exciting projects,” said Davies in a letter to the mayor. Tom Edwards, however—the transport correspondent for the BBC—wrote on the network’s website: “This shambles is an embarrassing mess for the capital and it has already descended into finger pointing and a blame game over who is culpable for wasting . . . public money.”