Khan scraps Thames Garden Bridge plans

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has announced that the Greater London Authority will not provide the vital financial guarantees needed for construction to begin.

Writing to the Garden Bridge Trust, Khan said that a continuing shortfall in fundraising for the scheme and a lack of the necessary land use agreements over the last three years were the reasons behind the decision.

The mayor has stressed that he would not agree to any more of London taxpayers’ money being spent on the Garden Bridge project, but says that the project put this in jeopardy because of the financial risks of increasing capital costs of the project, the risk of the bridge only being partially built and doubts over the establishment of an endowment fund to help meet future maintenance costs.

Khan said: “Having assessed all the information available to me including the findings of Dame Margaret Hodge’s independent review, my view is that providing Mayoral guarantees will expose the London taxpayer to too much additional financial risk.

“With planning permission due to expire this year, many outstanding issues remain, including spiralling construction costs and doubts around funding the maintenance of the bridge. The funding gap is now at over £70 million and it appears unlikely that the trust will succeed in raising the private funds required for the project. I am simply not prepared to risk a situation where the taxpayer has to step in and contribute significant additional amounts to ensure the project is completed.”

The proposal for a garden suspended across the Thames, featuring 270 trees and thousands of other plants, was originally devised by Joanna Lumley and won support from Boris Johnson, then Mayor of London, and former Chancellor George Osborne. However, following the commitment of £60 million of public money to the scheme, critics labelled the project as self-indulgent and a vanity project.

Labour MP Margaret Hodge published her report on the project last month, arguing that the project should be scrapped now rather than risk losing more public cash on a project inspired more by politics than value for money.