Lord Davies, chairman of the trust which proposed the Garden Bridge in central London, has urged the government not to axe the project, even though a Newsnight investigation revealed that necessary funding was still short by £20m.
Lord Davies said that delays had resulted in increased costs, taking the total required to build the new bridge across the Thames to £185m, up £10m on the total originally stated.
The Department for Transport has agreed to supply funds of £30m for the bridge, while a further £30m has been promised by Transport for London.
The Garden Bridge over the Thames, designed by Thomas Heatherwick, is planned to be extensively planted with trees and flowers and is intended to link the Temple Underground Station to the South Bank.
City Hall have previously stated that the new bridge would “support economic growth and planned regeneration on both sides of the river”.
It has been estimated that the Garden Bridge would attract up to seven million visits per year.
The bridge was planned to start construction in 2015 and be completed by 2017, though with the uncertainty surrounding the project Lord Davies has now stated that completion would be in 2019, if work begins shortly.
The trust revealed that a number of those pledging funds had pulled out last year, but Lord Davies insists that the project has momentum and can raise the remaining funds required, saying: “This is an iconic project. It does sum up what’s great about Britain.”
Designer Thomas Heatherwick defended the project, saying: “How can it possibly be a bad thing to stitch the city together better, to create new public space that we have never had before – new views for all of us.”
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