Latest News

The Garden Bridge Is A Solution To A Problem We Don’t Have

31 Aug 2016

While a lot of the conversation relating to the Garden Bridge concentrates on public finance, huge risk of massive over-spend and nervousness of politicians to say NO to Joanna Lumley and press the stop button it is important to remember that it is a bridge we are talking about. That is, something which should serve a demonstrable transport purpose and be led by function, rather than vanity, cronyism and greed.

This post is written by “Ranty Highwayman“, a professional highway engineer with interest in improving the public realm for walkers and cyclists. His blog may at first seem geeky and niche, but it’s well worth a look to see how real, sometimes small, changes can have a direct effect upon community, safety and individuals.

Here he considers the Garden Bridge for transport purpose, shared use, transformative potential and aesthetic. It doesn’t come out well….

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Jumping The Hurdles & Shaking The Money Tree

25 Aug 2016

The Olympics may be over, but there’s one event everyone is watching which is still stuttering on to a car-crash of a conclusion. There’s only one entrant in it, but the Garden Bridge Hurdles is attracting a larger audience by the day despite the sorry state of the sole competitor – the exhausted and gasping Garden Bridge Trust – becoming more of a figure of ridicule than the usual loved plucky underdogs who struggle to compete.

The Garden Bridge Hurdles is a drawn out affair in which the charity must try to reach the finishing line despite more and more obstacles being put in the way. It’s tragic but compelling, and while today the miserable entrant may have managed to step over (or sidestep) one hurdle, many more lay ahead with more at the sides ready to be placed in their path.

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Regenerating The Struggling Northbank

21 Aug 2016

On 21st July Lord Mervyn Davies, the Chairman of the Garden Bridge Trust, wrote to Chris Grayling MP, Secretary of State for Transport, seeking support from the government in the face of his development unraveling.

It included this sentence:

“It will also be a catalyst for new business activity, particularly in areas in need of regeneration such as the Northbank…”

Now watch this video made by the Northbank Business Improvement District (BID) highlighting the massive gentrification needs of this most down-at-heel part of London.

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Somebody Needs To Press The STOP Button

20 Aug 2016

Someone needs to take control and press the Garden Bridge STOP button. As we have seen this week the project is losing donors and not only has a real risk of a huge shortfall in required funding, with the public likely to have to make up any difference, the final build cost is likely to go sky high due to a late start, legal actions, problematic design and a complicated site with the added issue of the Thames Tideway Tunnel construction.

But Sadiq doesn’t have the guts to press it, Whitehall say it’s not their hands that should do it and, clearly, the arrogant Garden Bridge Trust won’t swallow their pride to STOP their vanity dream.

Let’s have a little look at the buckshifting and who can press the button.

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Some Genuine Community Community Parks

19 Aug 2016

The Garden Bridge is a total top-down, aggressive development imposed on the local community and wider London with little consultation, no design competition, low public support and only using notions of engagement, participation and environmental or transport improvement as a smokescreen to enable public funding and create a false appearance of ‘good’. Real urban change can come from the bottom up, from citizens who best know the local needs, concerns and who will benefit most from genuine improvements. By doing this spaces then also improve for those passing through as well as for the tourists. Imagine a London with tens of thousands of bottom-up community-led improvements like this instead of huge, ecologically-damaging top-down vanity projects like the Garden Bridge.

A previous post looked at some bridges around the world to highlight the incredible expense and lack of creativity in the Garden Bridge. In this one we look at some community parks and greening strategies which both work for the community, visitor and city and offer a plethora of possibilities of how London could improve once it shakes off the shackles of the Garden Bridge.

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Newsnight’s Interview With Thomas Heatherwick

18 Aug 2016

Newsnight have published the full 30 minute interview with Thomas Heatherwick. It’s largely a well-rehearsed routine which he has repeated many times at carefully selected events – right down to the very phrasing, mid-sentence questions and intonation which is a carbon copy of his previous routines. Routines which he has never lowered himself to have with the public, critics or anyone with valid concerns about his approach.

Do have a watch and listen, but his saccharine nonsense is quite hard work. But if you can’t stomach it then I have picked out some bits so you don’t have to.

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Newsnight Finds Garden Bridge Trust Have Been Lying

17 Aug 2016

Newsnight have been looking into the Garden Bridge Trust’s funding claims, and found they have been somewhat loose with the truth (there’s a surprise).

“Some call it an expensive indulgance in a capital that has too many”, Evan Davis stated during the introduction and suggested it was “a bridge too far”, before the article went on to reveal that £20m of donations have been pulled from the development in the last 12 months and that they are currently £62m short, and not the £30m they have been claiming. It also revealed the new total cost has gone up to at least £185m and their timeline has slipped by a year.

This development which represents all that is wrong with our broken politics and society has to be put out of its misery.

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The Garden Bridge & Concern Across The UK

14 Aug 2016

Last June I wrote a post on the A Folly For London website to explain how the Garden Bridge isn’t solely a ‘local’ issue. It clearly IS a local issue – just ask the residents of the Coin Street community about the impact of the development to their lives not to mention the loss of the riverside public park – but it is also a project of direct interest to national taxpayers.

But now, at a time where austerity is biting harder than before, when the divisions between London and the rest of the UK are tangible and when the previous Tory regime’s plans and funding are under increased scrutiny absurd vanity projects, such as the Garden Bridge, are being considered within the national funding landscape.

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With Friends Like These: Garden Bridge Donors Part 3

11 Aug 2016

The Garden Bridge Trust shout loudly about the proportion of their development’s costs coming from private donors. This despite having failed to add anything much in the last 18 months and many of their existing donors choosing to remain, or become, anonymous. Assembly Member Tom Copley has concerns that some of those who remain hidden from sight may have ulterior motives for generously funding a pet TfL project – perhaps they are a company who wants TfL support in the future…

But what of those who we know about? They are a mix of family trusts, presumably with friendships to some of the few people behind the Garden Bridge, and corporations looking for cheap sponsorship or to greenwash their image. In two previous articles by Tales From The South Bank we learnt about Glencore and the Taylor Family Foundation, while here their critical eye is put over the Garfield Weston Foundation (of misery).

Joanna Lumley calls the donors “incredibly rich and incredibly generous people”, but with friends like these does London need enemies?

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Polling, The Evening Pravda & The Garden Bridge

7 Aug 2016

Dawn Foster is a writer on politics, economics and social affairs as well as contributor to the Guardian. Yesterday she put out a poll-tweet asking if anyone wanted the Garden Bridge to which overwhelmingly, and fairly obviously, they didn’t.

But to what extent have polls been useful, or accurate, when thinking about the Garden Bridge?

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Bridge Construction Could Cause Marine Disaster, Expert States

4 Aug 2016

A leading marine engineer has warned that the construction process of the Garden Bridge risks causing a serious disaster similar to the sinking of the Marchioness in 1989. The pleasure boat hit with another craft on the river and 51 people drowned, and Tim Beckett advised that the risk is “simply too great” for the most hazardous stretch of the Thames.

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Heatherwick’s Failure #2 – The Blue Carpet

2 Aug 2016

Thomas Heatherwick was a fairly unknown designer when he won the commission for a public square outside the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle in 1996. His vision was for a voluminous carpet of glowing bright blue with ruptures to reveal bollards and benches folded up from the ground.

However, almost immediately the materials started cracking and fading while costs and production time both went over. It is now openly mocked by the locals who know the history, while to others it’s simply a colourless urban ruin which “detracts from all the historical buildings around it” and “should serve as a warning”.

The sad tale of Heatherwick’s first commission gives us some important warnings for the Garden Bridge: damage to existing heritage, public expenditure, ignoring expert advice, the danger of getting sucked in by alluring speculative imagery and ill-considered experimental design totally failing in important public spaces.

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