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Designed by London based designer Thomas Heatherwick and landscape designer Dan Pearson, the Garden Bridge is a proposed pedestrian bridge with landscaped gardens that will span the River Thames in London from Temple underground station on the North Bank to the South Bank.
Approximately 366 metres long and 30 metres wide (at its widest point) the proposed steel, copper-nickel and concrete bridge will allow pedestrians to weave through an expanse of landscaped gardens as they make their way across the bridge.
As many will be aware, this ambitious project has not been without controversy. Construction costs are currently estimated at £175 million and this is where some of the problems begin.
Although the majority of the project will be funded by private investment (£115 million) around £60 million of the proposed budget will come from public money.
As a result, an overwhelming number of campaigners have voiced concerns that the public contribution to funds is an unnecessary expense. In addition to this many are also concerned that the project as a whole will contribute heavily to an increased level of tourism in an already overcrowded part of London.
Despite heavy opposition, London mayor Sadiq Khan has warned that abandoning the project at this late stage would ultimately cost the taxpayer just as much as to complete it and so reluctantly, has given the project his backing. However, he did make it clear that no further public money would go towards the project and has now put a stop to existing spending, pending a review.
On the other side of the debate, supporters of the bridge see it as a unique opportunity to place nature at the heart of the city, bringing a world-class landscaped garden, with an abundance of plants, trees and shrubs, to the centre of London.
With publicly accessible parks and recreational grounds making up 40% of London’s city space, it can not be denied that these type of green areas within large cities benefit the communities as a whole. A perfect example of this kind of project done well is the High Line in New York city. Since opening in 2009 the High Line has proved to be a financial success and has quickly become an iconic New York destination.
One of the High Line’s strengths however was the repurposing of an existing city structure, a strength the Garden Bridge project does not share. Ultimately the cost and impact of constructing an entirely new structure has attracted the most criticism.
For now we will all have to wait and see what the future holds for the Garden Bridge project, but as London fast falls out of love with the idea, we may not have to wait long.
Full details of the Garden Bridge project are available via their website.