"Mayor gives approval to garden bridge"

19 December 2014

The office of the Mayor of London has approved the Garden Bridge, despite continuing doubts about funding and maintenance. Transport for London is putting £30m towards the Garden Bridge across the Thames which will not be a public highway and will not allow public access between midnight and 6am. It will also be restricted on many days during the year for commercial events. The Department for Transport is also putting £30m towards the bridge. Public access will be dependent upon a separate travel plan agreed between the owners of the bridge and the local authorities. The Mayor has rejected proposals to include a cycle track running alongside the bridge.

Darren Johnson asked the Mayor for a guarantee in perpetuity that there would be a public right of way across the bridge. The Mayor has not given such a guarantee, nor does the planning application offer it. Boris Johnson argues that “Many parks and gardens close when its dark”.

“It is shocking that despite £60m of public transport funding, this project is more Garden than Bridge. The Mayor has failed to get good value for money by ensuring that there is both a separate cycling link, built alongside the bridge and also 24/7 public right of way. Central London is a 24 hour city, but under the current proposals there is effectively no bridge for at least a quarter of the day. Given the scale of public funding for this bridge I would have expected the Mayor to have pinned down guarantees that Londoners will be able to use this bridge to cross the river 24/7 in ten or twenty years’ time. My fear is that any shortfall in funding for the Garden Bridge will either be met from the public purse, or from a larger number of corporate parties leading to regular bridge closures."

“The cable car was meant to help commuters get across the river, but got turned into a tourist attraction by the Mayor. This looks increasingly like another of the Mayor’s high profile, tourism projects funded from tube and bus fares.”

Notes to editors

1) Darren Johnson (17-Sept-2014):

Are you happy with Londoners being denied access to the Garden Bridge between midnight and 6am? Have your officers made any representations to the Garden Trust or via the planning process to contest this?

The Mayor (17-Sept-2014):

Many parks and gardens in London close when it is dark and the intention with the Garden Bridge is to keep it open to coincide with the greatest demand for use.

Decisions regarding operation and maintenance are a matter for the Garden Bridge Trust, which took this decision in consultation with the two local authorities.

2) Darren Johnson (17-Sept-2014):

Did you ask your officers to raise gaining a 24 hour public right of way with the Garden Trust as a pre-requisite for money being allocated from your transport budget?

The Mayor (17-Sept-2014):

The Garden Bridge has an extremely positive business case and will directly support policies in my Transport Strategy for making London a more walkable and liveable city and support the economic development of London. It will provide the benefits of a bridge with those of a garden or park.

Many parks and gardens in London close when it is dark and the intention with the Garden Bridge is to keep it open to coincide with the greatest demand for use. Through discussion with the two local authorities, the planning application for the Garden Bridge assumes it will open between 6am and 12 midnight. This covers the times when the demand for movement across the river is greatest.

Running and maintenance decisions will be a matter for the Garden Bridge Trust, but I understand opening hours will be kept under review. The potential for longer opening hours could be considered if there is a strong demand to use the bridge at night and in agreement with both local authorities.

3) Darren Johnson (17-Sept-2014):

Why was it decided to contribute £60m to the construction of the Garden Bridge without gaining a 24 hour public right of way?

The Mayor (17-Sept-2014):

The Garden Bridge has an extremely positive business case and will directly support policies in my Transport Strategy for making London a more walkable and liveable city and support the economic development of London. I have asked TfL to contribute £30 million to the proposed project on the basis that this contribution will help leverage a large amount of other funding sources to deliver the project. The Government has matched this contribution with £30 million of their own for the same reasons.

The Garden Bridge will be a new crossing of the Thames and a new open space for Central London. It will provide the benefits of a bridge with those of a Garden or Park. Through discussion with the two local authorities, the planning application for the Garden Bridge assumes it will open between 6am and 12 midnight. This covers the times when the demand for movement across the river is greatest and outside of these hours the likely number of expected users will fall considerably.

Opening hours will be kept under review, and the potential for longer opening hours will be explored if there is a strong demand to use the bridge at night and in agreement with both local authorities.