Mounting opposition towards Garden Bridge with 'space for plants' - but not cycling

Garden Bridge

(Photo: Arup)

A legal challenge has been launched against plans to build a garden bridge over the river Thames. Michael Ball, from Tulse Hill in south London, is claiming the London borough of Lambeth unlawfully granted planning permission for the £175m bridge in central London.

LCC and others have raised concerns that plans for the Garden Bridge contain no provision for cycling, and raised this with Lambeth Council before planning permission for the bridge was granted. The Garden Bridge Trust has said on Twitter that providing space for cycling would mean ‘less space for plants’. 

Garden Bridge

Caroline Pidgeon, chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee, has said: “At the very least cyclists should be able to use it as a safe route across the Thames. It would be appalling if so much public money was spent on a new Thames crossing which totally excluded cyclists."

Both the Millennium Bridge and the Hungerford Bridge (pedestrian walkways) were constructed without any provision for cycle users. At least one crossing for cyclists in central London where there are no motor vehicles would be of particular benefit to children, new cyclists and leisure cyclists, and help contribute to Lambeth’s aspirations to improve conditions for cycle users and increase cycling levels.  

London's congestion and pollution issues could be tackled in a more effective and economical way by transforming the city's existing river crossings into spaces which are safer and more inviting for cycling - for example by reducing motor traffic volumes on nearby Waterloo Bridge.

Lawyers for Ball are arguing that Lambeth council failed to comply with its duty to protect the historic settings of listed buildings in the area, including Somerset House. They also maintain long-term funding arrangements for the project have not been properly considered.

His solicitor Richard Stein, from the human rights team at law firm Leigh Day, said: “This seems like a poorly thought-through project which, although attractive at first glance, on reflection is seriously deficient in a number of important respects. This is reflected by the growing public concern expressed about the bridge.

“We are asking the court to quash the planning permission and to send the project back to Lambeth for much more careful consideration before such a significant change is made to the historic heart of London.”

The lack of cycling provision was given by many respondents as a key reason for opposition to the project in responses to the initial consultation, which ran at the end of 2013.