Of the various vanity projects that London’s new Mayor Sadiq Khan inherited from his occasional predecessor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, the cable car, with its number of regular users having fallen from four to none, he is stuck with, the New Bus for London has had further orders canned and its future is uncertain, and then there is the one that hasn’t yet been built, the Garden Bridge across the Thames.
It's worse that that, it's dead, Jim
Khan has been under pressure to walk away completely from the project, which is in big trouble, but has not yet done the deed. After the latest Architects’ Journal revelations, he may have no alternative. Put directly, the Garden Bridge is no longer a viable project. Its costs are spiralling upwards, the planning process has yet to be finalised, there are judicial reviews outstanding, and the land to build it has not yet been secured.
The litany of failure makes for grim reading, and only reinforces the prospect of the project being cancelled, no doubt to the intense relief of many Londoners who will wonder why on earth the deed was not done rather earlier. Problems now include:
1 No new funding has been secured for the project for almost two years
2 The funding gap is now £56 million, and the estimated cost £185 million
3 The land on both sides of the Thames has not yet been secured
4 A licence from the Port of London Authority has not yet been obtained
5 A guarantee to underwrite the £3 million annual running cost, promised by Bozza, has not been confirmed by Sadiq Khan
6 The Bridge’s trustees “are unable to conclude that the Trust is a going concern”.
You read that right. The Garden Bridge trust is effectively broke. Yet despite trust chair Mervyn Davies telling “Since a number of [project risks] are outside the control of the trustees, they recognise that if this is not possible [to overcome the problems], they will need to consider the further delay to the project, and in a worst-case scenario, whether the project remains viable”, the optimistic noises keep on coming.
Hence the Evening Standard declaring “Garden Bridge trust 'determined' to press on with project despite warnings in their own report” and following that with “The Trust’s chairman Lord Mervyn Davies said he ‘strongly’ believed that the remaining hurdles, which include securing land rights and raising another £55 million, could be overcome”, quoting Davies saying “We look forward to working with our supporters, including the Mayor and the Government to make the Garden Bridge a reality”.
As no money has been raised for so long, it’s safe to say that Davies and his pals will not find getting another £55 million (or maybe more) of it easy. The solution to this problem now lies not with him, but with Sadiq Khan. The Mayor has to step up to the plate and end this farce once and for all - initially by declining to pay for the bridge’s maintenance.
Bozza’s last folly is literally dead in the water. Khan just has to sign the death certificate.