London 'garden bridge' gets official approval

19th December 2014, Comments 0 comments

The project to create a garden bridge over the River Thames between Waterloo Bridge and Blackfriars got the final go-ahead on Friday, with the office of the London mayor announcing construction could start in 2015.

"Construction of a new Garden Bridge over the River Thames could begin next year after the scheme was given the green light by the Mayor of London's office," said an official statement.

The 366 metre-long (1,200 foot) bridge "will include a major new public space and garden that will be free to access and will feature 270 trees as well as shrubs, climbing plants, hedges and flowers," it added.

The bridge, due for completion in 2018, will be open from 6:00 am to midnight and will be free of charge.

"The Garden Bridge will provide a fantastic new landmark for London whilst supporting regeneration and economic growth on both sides of the Thames," said mayor Boris Johnson.

"It will create a stunning oasis of tranquillity in the heart of our city and boost our plans to encourage walking in the city."

The London borough of Westminster, which will partly host the bridge, gave its approval at the beginning of the month.Lambeth Council, which will host the rest, had already given the green light for the £175 million ($274 million, 222 million euros) project.

The bridge would connect London's South Bank with Temple underground railway station on the north side and would be the 19th bridge in the British capital.

The last bridge built over the Thames was also a pedestrian one, which opened in 2000 between St Paul's Cathedral and the Tate Modern art museum, but required extra work after developing a worrying tendency to wobble.

The new plan already has its critics.

Writing in the Financial Times newspaper, architect Edwin Heathcote doubted that access would be free and questioned the need to connect the two banks of the river at a point served by several existing bridges.

Plans for the bridge have been designed by architect Thomas Heatherwick, who was also responsible for the swimming pool at the London Olympic Games in 2012.

© 2014 AFP

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