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Out-Law News 1 min. read

Westminster resolves to approve plans for garden bridge across the Thames

Westminster City Council (WCC) has resolved to grant full planning permission for the construction of a pedestrian bridge planted with shrubs and trees up to 15 metres high across the River Thames in London.

Charity the Garden Bridge Trust submitted plans to WCC and Lambeth Council in May, proposing the construction of a 366 m pedestrian bridge up to 30 m wide, spanning the River Thames between the roof of Temple London Underground station on the north bank and The Queen's Walk, in front of the ITV building on the south bank of the river.

The proposed bridge, conceived by actor Joanna Lumley and designed by Thomas Heatherwick, would be planted with shrubs and with 270 trees of around 45 different species. The bridge would feature a brick pathway leading through the planted areas and a series of viewing balconies providing views of the city across the Thames.

The plans were approved by Lambeth Council in November and were on the agenda for consideration at a meeting of WCC's planning applications committee yesterday, having been recommended for approval subject to referral to the mayor of London and appropriate funding and maintenance measures, in a planning officer's report.

The report said the bridge was expected to be open to the public without charge all year, with the exception of up to 12 days when "fundraising or community events" might be held. An environmental statement submitted with the application said that 7 million visitors, at up to 4,000 visitors per hour, were expected to use the bridge annually. However, the officer's report noted that certain objectors considered that these figures materially underestimated likely visitor numbers.

While it was admitted that the bridge would cause "significant harm" to protected views across the River Thames, the report concluded that the bridge would deliver "substantial public benefits, including the iconic architecture of the bridge, new connectivity and additional views created from the bridge".

According to a BBC report, deputy leader of WCC Robert Davis said: "This is something that is iconic and absolutely unique, and will be recognised right across the world. I understand the concerns about the loss of views, but there is no doubting that this bridge will bring substantial and significant benefits to London."

The Trust has estimated that construction on the bridge could commence in December 2015 or January 2016, and that the bridge would open to the public in 2018.

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