Charity behind London's Garden Bridge announces closure

The Garden Bridge Trust blamed the Mayor of London's withdrawal of support for the project's demise

The charity behind a controversial proposal to build a garden bridge across the River Thames in London has announced that it is winding up.

In a statement on its website, the Garden Bridge Trust, which was set up to build and run the proposed garden bridge in central London, said it was ending the project due to a lack of support from the mayor of London.

The Mayor of London withdrew support for the bridge earlier this year following concerns about the trust’s ability to raise the £185m needed to complete the project.

In the statement, the charity said it would now terminate contracts and conclude donor funding agreements, before being wound up in accordance with the Companies Acts.

It said also it had spoken to the government and a potential benefactor about the bridge’s future, but said the trustees had come to the opinion that the bridge could not be built without the mayor’s support.

The bridge had been allocated £37.4m funding from the Department for Transport and Transport for London, and the government has an agreement in place to underwrite cancellation costs that will bring the total amount of public money invested in the bridge to £46.4m.

The cancellation of the bridge project follows a review carried out by the Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge on behalf of Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, which said that it was unlikely the trust could have secured enough financial support to build and maintain the bridge.

Hodge’s report said it was better for the taxpayer to accept the loss of £46.4m already invested in the scheme than to put further public money in.

But the trustees for the Garden Bridge Trust had criticised the report for failing to fully investigate the charity’s fundraising activities and its public engagement work.

The report led to Khan withdrawing mayoral support for the project in April this year, which was a condition of planning approvals from the London Borough of Lambeth and Westminster City Council.

The planning permission was due to expire in December, and the charity had attempted to buy land on the south bank of the Thames for three years without success.

The Garden Bridge Trust’s accounts released earlier this year show that it still needed to raise £56m of the £185m cost of the project, but also warns that the costs could increase further.

A letter from Lord Mervyn Davies, chair of the Garden Bridge Trust, to Khan says: "The Garden Bridge would have been a unique place; a beautiful new green space in the heart of London, free to use and open to all, showcasing the best of British talent and innovation. It is all the more disappointing because the trust was set up at the request of TfL, the organisation headed up by the mayor, to deliver the project.

"It is a sad day for London because it is sending out a message to the world that we can no longer deliver such exciting projects. I would like to thank our donors and supporters, who gave us unstinting help and support along the way."

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