London

Thames Garden Bridge halted for finance review

Artists impression of London garden bridge Image copyright Heatherwick Studio
Image caption Building work has yet to begin on the bridge

Preparatory work on the proposed Garden Bridge across the River Thames has been halted to allow City Hall to review how it is being financed, it has emerged.

London mayor Sadiq Khan has voiced support for the Garden Bridge, which was first proposed in 2012 and is expected to open in 2018.

But he also said he will not provide any further public money towards its construction.

Building work on the bridge between the South Bank and Temple has yet to begin.

The amount of public money being provided by the Department of Transport and City Hall to help finance construction of the bridge already stands £60m.

However, the mayor now wants to review the financial position of the bridge after £3m of additional funding was sought from Transport for London (TfL).

'No public funds'

The money will be used to help make improvements to, and strengthen, the Tube station at Temple on the north bank of the Thames so the bridge structure can sit on top of the station roof.

The additional funding was due to be approved at a TfL finance and policy committee hearing on Friday.

The Garden Bridge Trust, which is behind construction of the bridge, said it would ultimately provide the finance for the additional costs to make the improvements to the Tube station.

A Garden Bridge Trust spokesperson confirmed it had signed a costs agreement with TfL which included a repayment schedule. They added the first payment on that schedule was made in June.

The spokesperson said: "This requires the trust to meet the costs against an agreed payment schedule which will be funded by the trust's overall project costs. There is no requirement for extra public funds for this work."

The trust said it was now working on securing planning permission ahead of construction work which is expected to begin in July.

During the mayoral election Mr Khan expressed concerns about the financing arrangements for the bridge.

A spokesperson for mayor said: "The previous mayor first approved plans for enabling work to prepare Temple Tube station for the arrival of the Garden Bridge two years ago in the summer of 2014, but final authorisation was only provided in March this year, two months before the mayoral election.

"This enabling work has since been suspended and that was reported to the finance and policy committee last Friday."

"Sadiq Khan has been clear that no new public funds should be committed to the Garden Bridge and he has pledged to make the project more open and transparent - standards that were not always met under the previous administration."

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