London mayor launches investigation into Garden Bridge procurement

Credit: Institute for Government
It’s not a project that I have previously had an opinion on either for or against, but given the millions of pounds of public money allocated to the project, it is clear that there needs to be far more transparency around how funds are being spent.
– Margaret Hodge

London mayor Sadiq Khan has ordered a review into Thomas Heatherwick’s proposed £185m Garden Bridge project, which will investigate whether taxpayers have had value for money for their contribution.

Dame Margaret Hodge MP, the former chair of the UK’s Public Accounts Committee, will conduct the review. She will focus on the procurement process around the project, and analyse whether the required standards have been met around transparency and openness. According to Khan, the review will push the project’s developers “to achieve higher standards of accountability and transparency [the project] has so far been lacking.”

The idea of a garden bridge across the River Thames between South Bank and Temple was first pitched by British actor Joanna Lumley and received strong backing from Khan’s predecessor Boris Johnson, before his tenure as mayor ended in May. However, the project has been mired in controversy over the procurement process, which saw Heatherwick Studio’s vision selected over competing bridge designs from Wilkinson Eyre and Marks Barfield.

According to an Architect's Journal investigation, Heatherwick was present for several meetings with mayoral staff, including Johnson, before the contest was held.

Khan has previously backed the project on the proviso that no new London taxpayers’ funds should be committed to and that it should be a genuinely public and open space with strict limitations on how often it is closed for private events. However, he has previously called for a full investigation into how the project has developed.

Now Hodge will assess the findings of previous reviews and interview current and former staff of Transport for London and the Greater London Authority to investigate the conduct of the organisations since the project was first proposed. The review, which will cost the taxpayer £25,000, will culminate in a report to the mayor setting out any lessons that should be learnt in order to improve the conduct of potential and approved projects in the future.

“I’m clear that since the beginning of the project there hasn’t been the necessary standard of transparency and openness around the Garden Bridge,” said Khan. “Nearly £40m of public money has already been spent on the Garden Bridge project, and Londoners deserve far more information about the decisions that have been made around how their money is being spent.

“Margaret Hodge is hugely respected for her work scrutinising some of the UK’s largest and most high-profile publicly funded bodies. There’s no better qualified person to get to the bottom of the procurement process around the Garden Bridge, and establish whether Londoners have been getting value for money since the project began."

Hodge said: “It’s not a project that I have previously had an opinion on either for or against, but given the millions of pounds of public money allocated to the project, it is clear that there needs to be far more transparency around how funds are being spent. The planned bridge is a major project in an iconic part of London, and there are clearly questions that remain unanswered around issues like procurement.”

In an interview with the BBC last month, Heatherwick hit back at critics of the bridge, stating that any rejection of the project at this stage would show that “we have suddenly become a society who have no confidence in ourselves”.

"There's all sorts of people who want to get their little agenda and pin it onto this project,” he said. “But it’s an amazing project. How can it possibly be a bad thing to stitch the city together better, to create new public space that we have never had before, to create new views for all of us?”

He added that decision-makers must “hold their nerve” over the project.

In its most recent public statement, the Garden Bridge Trust has said construction on the bridge is not now likely to start until next year. Land deals and an agreement with Coin Street Community Builders, leaseholder of the land earmarked for the bridge’s south landing point, must be reached before building work can begin.

The cost of the Garden Bridge
Funding so far, according to the Mayor of London’s office

• The Garden Bridge Trust has stated that the total cost of the project is currently estimated to be £185m.

• £60m of public money has been pledged – with £30m from TfL and £30m from the Government.

• £20m of the money pledged by TfL is in the form of a loan to be repaid in full.

• Approximately £37m has already been spent from the total £60m pledged by Government and TfL.

• If the Garden Bridge is finished, then not only will the £20m loan be repaid to TfL, but the Garden Bridge Trust will need to pay approximately £22m in VAT to the Treasury – leaving an ultimate cost to the taxpayer of £18m.

Garden Bridge  London  Sadiq Khan  Margaret Hodge  Thomas Heatherwick  Boris Johnson  design  architecture 
Related stories
18 Aug 2016

Thomas Heatherwick urges backers of 'amazing' Garden Bridge 'to hold their nerve' as criticism mounts

11 Jul 2016

Garden Bridge faces further uncertainty as new London mayor demands public funding scrutiny

17 Mar 2016

Heatherwick's Garden Bridge moves closer to reality as engineers appointed

02 Nov 2015

Crucial beakthrough reached in London Garden Bridge funding stand-off

19 Dec 2014

Boris Johnson approves Heatherwick’s London Garden Bridge

London mayor Sadiq Khan has ordered a review into Thomas Heatherwick’s proposed £185m Garden Bridge project, which will investigate whether taxpayers have had value for money for their contribution. Dame Margaret Hodge MP, the former chair of the UK’s Public Accounts Committee, will conduct the review. She will focus on the procurement process around the project, and analyse whether the required standards have been met around transparency and openness. According
CLD,ARC,DES,DEV
Construction on the Garden Bridge will not now take place until next year / Garden Bridge Trust
More news
News stories: 1 - 30 of 7785     
 
 
 
News stories: 1 - 30 of 7785     
 
 
 
company profile
Company profile: TechnoAlpin
TechnoAlpin is the world leader for snowmaking systems. Our product portfolio includes all different types of snow-making equipment for outdoor and innovative holistic solutions for indoor applications.
Try cladmag for free!
Sign up with CLAD to receive our regular ezine, instant news alerts, free digital subscriptions to CLADweek, CLADmag and CLADbook and to request a free sample of the next issue of CLADmag.
sign up
features
Happy by Design has just been published by Ben Channon via the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)
Ben Channon
"I hope architects gain a genuine understanding of how buildings and spaces affect our mental wellbeing and how their design can be tailored towards making people happier and healthier"

Ben Channon has written Happy by Design, a new book about how architecture affects our mental health. He explains how we can all be happier at home

The cylindrical Faena Forum arts and cultural centre is currently taking shape in Miami, US
David Gianotten is one of nine partners who lead OMA. He was made a partner in 2010
"We are moving towards a business model that goes beyond architecture"

Maybe it’s time for architects to move away from the competition model and start taking control says OMA partner David Gianotten

Long beams are angled to allow the maximum amount of natural light into the art galleries
Nicolas Moreau & Hiroko Kusunoki
"With big projects like this one, there’s always going to be controversy. Of course people are concerned"

The shock winners of the competition to design the Guggenheim Helsinki have kept a low profile – until now. Magali Robathan goes to Paris to meet them

Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
To advertise in our catalogue gallery: call +44(0)1462 431385
features
A podium at the base of the hotel will link the building to a publicly accessible spa, café and restaurant
Thom Mayne
"Both good design & really bad design can be interesting"

On why he’s building a skyscraper next to Switzerland’s most famous thermal baths

Minimalist architect Siza Vieira designed both spas, but the one at Vidago Palace has more of a softer, nurturing feel
Paula Marques, Unicer representative and GM of Vidago
"We felt a great sense of social responsibility when we acquired the land, and so we undertook a huge project in order to rebuild these two 100-year-old parks Paula Marques, Unicer representative and GM of Vidago"

How Portugal’s biggest brewer enlisted the help of one of the country’s best known architects to turn two historic nature parks into thermal spa and nature destinations

features
Richard Rogers partner RSHP
"Leisure space is at the very root of democracy. We have to defend our public spaces"

On defending our public spaces

The Electric Lemon restaurant features glamorous interiors by Rockwell Group
"Further hotels have been confirmed for Los Angeles, Santa Clara, CA, Seattle, Chicago and Houston"

Rockwell Group and Joyce Wang on the inspirations behind the guest rooms, public spaces, spa and gym at Equinox Hotel Hudson Yards

cladkit product news
Mather & Co and ITV unite to create Coronation Street Experience
Mather & Co has transformed the visitor centre into the ultimate haven for ardent Coronation Street viewers
Magali Robathan
Experience designers, Mather & Co, have orchestrated a remarkable collaboration with ITV to unveil the new Coronation Street Experience, a ...
CSI Design Expo Americas 2024 announces new Attractions & Entertainment Technology Zone
The event will allow buyers and suppliers to meet
Magali Robathan
Cruise Ship Interiors (CSI) invites cruise lines, shipyards, design studios, outfitters, and suppliers to take part in CSI Design Expo ...
Koto Design introduces wood-fired hot tub
Koto is known for crafting modular, energy-neutral cabins and homes
Katie Barnes
A striking wood-fired hot tub has been unveiled by Koto, an architecture and design studio which has a passion for ...
cladkit product news
Alberto Apostoli and Newform collaborate to launch the A.Zeta showerhead
The showerhead offers two modes; rainfall or waterfall
Megan Whitby
Italian architect Alberto Apostoli has renewed his partnership with Newform – an Italian wellness company – and designed A.Zeta. A.Zeta ...
Siminetti unveils iridescent decorative panelling range inspired by plants
The Clematis design
Megan Whitby
The Botanicals is Siminetti’s newest Mother of Pearl decorative panelling collection, inspired by the distinctive patterns found in botany and ...
Eden project uses drones to spell out climate change warning
Magali Robathan
Almost 300 drones were used to signal an environmental message above the Eden Project’s biomes, during the UN Climate Change ...
cladkit product news
Alberto Apostoli designs tech-forward Wellness Therapy furniture collection for Varaschin
The furniture collection draws on absolute geometries, pure lines, neutral colours and strong references to nature
Megan Whitby
Furniture manufacturer Varaschin has unveiled the new Wellness Therapy range, designed by Italian spa and wellness architect and designer Alberto ...
Eco Resort Network conference to convene in Mauritius this May
The event will be hosted in the Mauritius in 2024
Megan Whitby
Hospitality industry event Eco Resort Network is set to take place at the Ravenala Attitude Hotel, Turtle Bay, Mauritius, from ...
Codelocks develops new glass door smart lock
The new lock model allows facilities and building managers to create and manage access via an app or online portal
Megan Whitby
Codelocks has launched its first glass door smart lock to bring intelligent access control to modern spa, leisure, fitness and ...
x
Sign up with CLAD for regular news updates