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Artists impression of the Garden Bridge planned for the Thames in London. Photo: Garden Bridge Trust.
Artists impression of the Garden Bridge planned for the Thames in London. Photo: Garden Bridge Trust.
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Everything in the Garden Bridge is lovely!

Bee Emmott

3rd September 2015.

The Garden Bridge will offer a new kind of green space in the heart of the city, strengthening London's status as the greenest capital in Europe, writes Bee Emmott. It will benefit the health and wellbeing of local communities and visitors alike.

The footbridge will be a world first and a fantastic crossing that takes people through a new, free public garden in the heart of urbanised London.

Will Jennings article suggests that the Garden Bridge is a private enclosure without benefit to London. This is wholly inaccurate.

and when we asked Londoners over three quarters said they support the Bridge being built (78%) with support in Westminster and Lambeth, where the Bridge crosses the Thames at 77%.

The Bridge combines public and private sector funding, with over 65% of the capital costs to build it fundraised from the private sector. More than £125 million has been pledged already and a business plan will cover the £2.8 million annual maintenance and operations costs.

Transport for London and the Government have together contributed £60 million in total. When we asked people in Lambeth and Westminster the vast majority think that the public sector should play a role in funding a new green space in London (77% say London-wide government should be involved, 70% boroughs and 58% central government).

Mr Jennings describes the Bridge as a private development. This is simply untrue. The Garden Bridge will be free, without charge or ticketing system. It will be open to the public from 6am and until midnight all year round with the exception of a maximum of 12 days when it will host fundraising and community events.

These will help toward the maintenance costs while also providing education and volunteering opportunities. These opening hours are similar to other London parks and gardens and will help sustain a safe and enjoyable environment.

There are valuable environmental opportunities here too. The Bridge will connect into the existing ecologies of the North and South Bank and also the wider patchwork of habitats across London.

There is the opportunity to create a 'green corridor', crossing the Thames, which benefits wildlife and pollinators, using carefully selected plants to improve biodiversity potential. Discussions with the Environment Agency, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and other wildlife charities are underway to look at and make the most of potential environmental projects.

Any suggestion that the public money being invested at the expense of local or London-wide parks is wrong. The public funding is from a dedicated transport budget and this is because of the transport and connectivity benefits it will bring.

The Bridge will provide a direct link to Temple Underground, reducing pressure on Waterloo Station. It complements and contributes to the Mayor's transport strategy targets. It will provide a new crossing dedicated for pedestrians and ease some pressure on other bridges.

In addition there are important economic benefits. The benefit cost ratio for the final design is 5.8:1. The quantifiable economic benefit of the bridge is close to £500m over 60 years through employment, investment and tourism opportunities.

More than that, the Garden Bridge is a fantastic opportunity for local businesses on both sides of the river. Whilst the bridge is being built first and foremost for Londoners, visitors drawn to the Garden Bridge, in the same way they are to St James' or Hyde Park, will visit local restaurants, shops and attractions.

They will be encouraged to make full use of these local amenities and the wide range of activities on either side of the river and connect Fleet Street, Covent Garden and the Embankment on the North Bank with the arts and visitor attractions on the South Bank.

A lot of time has been spent looking at projected numbers and independent modelling has shown that the bridge will operate at an acceptable level of service and comfort even if the predicted visitors are higher than originally estimated.

We are currently consulting on our plans for the operation of the Garden Bridge. People can get in touch with us via e-mail, by using our online questionnaire, coming to one of our consultation drop-in events and using the freepost questionnaire on one of our leaflets which have been extensively distributed to residents and businesses in Lambeth and Westminster.

The footbridge will be a world first and a fantastic crossing that takes people through a new, free public garden in the heart of urbanised London. It will benefit the health and wellbeing of local communities and visitors alike. It would be a folly to disregard the substantial benefits it offers local communities.

 


 

Bee Emmott is Executive Director of the Garden Bridge Trust.

Full details about the Garden Bridge including our consultation process are available on our website.

 

 

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