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Johnson dismisses Thames garden bridge proposal

Arup’s proposed “Garden Bridge” across the River Thames has been described as good only for a “crafty cigarette” or “romantic assignation” by London mayor Boris Johnson.

Johnson said the pedestrian bridge was a “wonderful essay” but questioned whether it fulfils any real purpose.

The proposed footbridge would span the river between the Victoria Embankment and The Cut near Waterloo and feature planting similar to New York’s High Line elevated park.

It has been designed by Arup and architect Thomas Heatherwick who jointly won a competitive tender run by the mayor’s own Transport for London (TfL) department.

At that time NCE reported that the mayor was keen to “help progress” an “iconic scheme” similar to the New York High Line.

At the time, TfL managing director for planning Michèle Dix told NCE that proposals for a new “landmark” bridge were in line with the mayor’s transport strategy and aspirations to improve pedestrian access and river crossings.

“The bridge will help support economic activity while providing commuters arriving at Waterloo with alternative options to cross the river,” she said.

Efforts to secure planning permission and the private funding needed to build the bridge are underway, which are also being supported by TfL.

Johnson this week cited the bridge as part of his vision for the Capital in 2050, but confessed he “wasn’t really sure what it was for”, other than making “a wonderful environment for a crafty cigarette or a romantic assignation”.

Other schemes in Johnson’s vision for 2050 included an extension of the Victoria Line to Dieppe in France and

Crossrail 5 serving as a commuter route to the “London suburb of Birmingham”.

He also had visions for all Tube trains to be running at 50mph and The Shard to be “dwarfed” by a “super colossal” skyscraper.

Less fanciful visions were the completion of Crossrail 2 and the Silvertown tunnel and the regeneration of key areas of the city such as Stratford, Battersea and Old Oak Common.

Johnson was speaking at a 2050 thought leadership dinner organised by University College London (UCL) to promote a new leadership programme it has devised. The programme is aimed at building an influential network of business leaders who will develop a built environment fit for the future.

It is predicted that by 2050 the world’s population will grow from 7bn to 9bn. Of these 9bn, some 75% are likely to live in urban environments, up from 50% in 2010.
UCL chairman in Built Environment Foresight, Tim Broyd said that the programme was intended to address the challenges presented by such growth and also to allow UK plc to identify and exploit the opportunities that it presents.

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