Joanna Lumley’s garden bridge over the Thames gets £30m seal of approval from Government

The Government has pledged £30 million in funding for actress Joanna Lumley’s vision, as it plans to sell off £20 billion state assets

Joanna Lumley’s dream of a “floating paradise garden” suspended above the river Thames is set to become a reality after the Government pledged £30 million to support its construction

Offering a final seal of approval to the bridge - designed by London 2012 Olympic cauldron creator Thomas Heatherwick - the funding announcement was included in the Government’s latest infrastructure plan.

Around half of the £150 million needed to bring the project to life had already been raised through private donations and a £4 million injection from Transport for London. Last month, Ms Lumley launched a trust to organise the funding and construction of the bridge.

The actress first pitched the concept 15 years ago following the death of Princess Diana, but it was not until the London Olympics that her vision began to be seen as a possibility.

Inspired by Ms Lumley’s  memories of the mist-covered mountain gardens of her childhood home in Malaysia, she joined forces with Mr Heatherwick last year -  just as TfL announced it was looking for proposal for a pedestrian bridge to cross the Thames from Temple tube station to the South Bank. Organisers say the bridge could now be finished as early as 2017.

The Government's infrastructure plan also pledged a further £50 million to redevelop the railway station at Gatwick Airport, as part of a £375 billion investment in the UK’s infrastructure.

After dropping proposals for the country's first toll scheme in a decade following widespread opposition, Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander said none of the schemes in the Coalition's latest plans involve payments by motorists.

The Government will however be selling off £20 billion of state owned financial and corporate assets by 2020, including its 40 per cent stake in Eurostar.

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