The threat of a Judicial Review brought by local resident Michael Ball has succeeded in forcing the Garden Bridge Trust to supply a legally enforceable guarantee that it will cover the estimated £90 million maintenance costs for the life of the controversial London Garden Bridge, between Temple and the South Bank of the Thames close to the National Theatre. As a result of the agreement the threat of Judicial Review has been withdrawn with Lambeth Council agreeing to pay Mr Ball’s costs.
In a second, unrelated, move Lambeth Council have also designated the area of grass and mature trees which is designated as the bridge’s south landing point and location for mixed retail to subsidise the bridge, an “asset of community value”. This means the site cannot be sold without the opportunity for the community to bid for it and any community bid would have six months to raise the money.
Both moves are thought to make the task of the Garden Bridge Trust, which includes actor Joanna Lumley, in building the bridge that much more difficult.
Mr Ball commented in a statement
“I launched a Judicial Review because the Garden Bridge is misconceived and strongly opposed by a wide range of people and interests. It is only because of the legal proceedings that the Garden Bridge Trust has agreed to provide a guarantee. This is recognised by the fact that Lambeth Council have agreed to pay all of our legal costs.
“The Garden Bridge Trust are £50m short already on the money they need to be able to build the bridge. It seems likely therefore that they will have great difficulty getting a private supporter to put an additional £90m on the line. £60m of public funding has already been committed, in this age of austerity, to what was supposed to be a private bridge, and Boris Johnson has ruled out any more public subsidies. We will keep this under close scrutiny, and will be ready to go back to Court if necessary”.