The Garden Bridge (1)

Tonight I went to a fundraising dinner in support of the Garden Bridge.   I was, and remain, in support of it, in spite of the protesters picketing outside.   Joanna Lumley spoke of her original dream of an English garden in the hills of Malaysia.   Thomas Heatherwick spoke of the importance of joining the two sides of the river by having somewhere to linger as one crosses it.   I know there are lots of people who oppose it, who think that it is a folly.   But there is something attractively mad about planting an English garden in the middle of the Thames.


6 thoughts on “The Garden Bridge (1)

  1. The Thames is the defining frame of our city. The hulking rock at the centre of Athens gathers together the religious, administrative and democratic bastions of power; 2,500 years later the Thames separates our three bastions – the Tower, the Palace of Westminster, and St Paul’s – providing their iconic setting. Just as in Athens, at the very centre of the screaming melee and the teeming multitudes lies peace – a sacred stretch for relaxing and debating and dreaming, dividing and uniting our city.

    Every year the citizens living close to this sacred stretch have to defend it from the slew of apparently “attractively mad” proposals to breach it and fill it and demean it. In the past three years alone we have had proposals for the stretch between Westminster and Blackfriars to host a floating Concorde, a lido, a theme park, and a cycle superdooper highway, as well as floating restaurants and adverts and even floating cars.

    Notwithstanding the fact that views of St Paul’s will be wrecked by the Garden Bridge, you may muse that maybe this should be our City’s fourth icon? In order to determine this we have an extraordinarily thorough screening process: architects jostle for procurement and assess options; planners sift the strategic and detailed issues; communities of interest are consulted; and local, regional and national politicians take decisions. But in the case of the Garden Bridge, all of this has been systematically bypassed. The procurement was fixed; options weren’t considered; planners were lent on; and all but the bravest politicians failed to stand up to our would-be Pericles, the great political bully of our age, Brexit Boris.

    And then there’s the money – all £200m of public money which would be sunk into the lifecycle costs of this cultural cuckoo, despite all of its fundraising swanks. As cultural outposts across this island are starved of public funding and closed – from Bede’s World to the network of libraries which are Bede’s legacy – I’m astonished that, as someone long responsible for protecting our culture and its icons on a very meagre purse, you, Charles Saumarez Smith, are so easily taken in by this fool’s gold.

  2. Clare says:

    And for many of us who oppose it, the problem is not that madly romantic idea of putting a garden above the Thames. It’s a lovely idea. The problems are the location, the collateral damage to the south bank, the cost, the design, the cynical attempts to claim that it is vital transport infrastructure, the smell of cronyism and the flawed consultation and procurement processes.
    Let’s have a garden over the Thames. But not from Temple to Southbank. And not like this.

  3. Corrine Edwards says:

    It is surley a national disgrace that £200 million is not being used to create a legacy that will benefit Londoners, Britain in general.
    The destruction of 32 trees on the Southbank is unforgivable. That is the legacy.
    The destruction of Exisiting green public Open space is an insult.
    The Northbank investors are going to be disappointed when millions of tourists start looking for toilets on the Strand.
    There is already a place to meet on the Southbank riverside walk. A lovely avenue of mature trees and benches (with backs) and public green open space.
    The private commercial landing building will see the destruction of ALL this. It will narrow the walkway to dangerous levels.
    The bridge will be closed at night, no cycle route and certainly no groups.

  4. Joseph Ogden says:

    Like you I was initially attracted by the idea but once I looked into it I was appalled. Please spare a couple of hours to visit the site of the south bank landing and see for yourself the damage it’s going to do. Experience is worth a thousand pretty pictures. The artist’s impressions are deceptive – and deeply ironical because if you look closely the lushest part of the main picture is the trees that are going to be felled to make way for the landing platform.

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