London

River Thames garden bridge legal challenge to be launched

The bridge Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption The plan for the bridge includes 270 new trees

A legal challenge is being launched in the High Court against plans to build a garden bridge over the River Thames in central London.

A south London resident claims Lambeth Council unlawfully granted planning permission for the £175m bridge.

Michael Ball, from Tulse Hill in Lambeth, fears its impact will be "devastating".

Lambeth Council said the bridge would potentially benefit "both the local and wider London economy".

The London Garden Bridge Trust said the project would greatly benefit the capital, linking cultural centres and tourist attractions on both banks of the river.

'Views compromised'

In a statement, it said: "This judicial review will run its course and in the meantime, the trust is proceeding with its plans on all aspects of the project, including fundraising and ongoing consultation with those affected by the development."

It said the bridge would also create new routes allowing for safer walking and improved pedestrian safety, whilst providing a new attraction for tourists.

Mr Ball, who was born close to the site, complained to the local planning authority about the impact the bridge would have on local residents.

"The impact of the Garden Bridge will be devastating," he said.

Image copyright Michael Ball
Image caption Michael Ball created this image of how he believes the best views of the City will be compromised
Image copyright AFP/Getty Image
Image caption The London Garden Bridge Trust says the project will greatly benefit the capital

"The best views of the City and St Paul's will be compromised from Waterloo Bridge and entirely blocked along the South Bank."

Mr Ball is a former director of Waterloo Community Development Group (WCDG), which has campaigned on planning policies in the area since the early 1970s.

'Creative and ambitious'

Lawyers for Mr Ball have argued Lambeth Council failed to comply with its duty to protect the historic settings of listed buildings in the area, including Somerset House.

They have also said long-term funding arrangements for the project have not been properly considered.

A spokesperson for Lambeth council described the project as a "creative and ambitious idea" with the potential to become an attractive landmark.

The plans will be fully scrutinised prior to their final agreement, they added.

London Mayor Boris Johnson approved plans for the bridge in December after Lambeth Council and Westminster City Council granted planning permission.

Actress Joanna Lumley came up with the idea for the crossing, which will link Temple with the Southbank, and it has been designed by London 2012 cauldron creator Thomas Heatherwick.

It is estimated seven million trips per year will be made across the bridge.

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