Garden Bridge: don't bank on it not being built
The mayor’s stance on the controversial Thames crossing project and the optimism of those behind it show that predictions of its demise may prove premature
Enemies of the Garden Bridge, potentially the most permanent of Boris Johnson’s mayoral follies, have been encouraged by the trust responsible for building it saying in its latest annual report that it is “unable to conclude” that the project “is a going concern”. Its tardily released accounts for the year ending 31 March 2016 show that it needs to raise a further £56m to hit its target of £185m. On Wednesday, Johnson’s successor Sadiq Khan reaffirmed to the London Assembly that his support for the bridge is subject to “no new public funds being required.” Meanwhile, Dame Margaret Hodge MP is working on a review, commissioned by Khan, “to look in detail at the procurement process around the project”.
So what are the chances of the bridge being built? Recognising that its future is at risk, the trust’s chair Lord Mervyn Davies concedes that unless rights to the necessary land on both sides of the Thames are secured and the further private funding raised, trustees “will need to consider further delay to the project, and in a worst case scenario, whether the project remains viable”. Yet pre-construction work has already been done, using the £60m received from the Department for Transport and Transport for London (of which £20m is being treated as a repayable TfL loan). Davies states that “our funding pipeline is strong” and that he “looks forward to starting construction in 2017”. In a letter to the Financial Times last October, he said he expected to “make major announcements involving international companies soon”.
Source: Guardian Transport