River Thames Garden Bridge project faces legal challenge over plans

Many campaigners fear that the impact of the project would be 'devastating'

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The Independent Online

A legal challenge is being launched in the High Court by campaigners who have attacked the spending of public money on a garden bridge over the Thames.

Criticising what they have described as a "luvvies’ folly", many campaigners fear that the impact of the project would be "devastating".

Michael Ball, from Lambeth, is leading the application. His lawyers claim Lambeth Council unlawfully granted planning permission and failed in its duty to protect the historic settings of listed buildings in the area, including Somerset House.

They also said that long-term funding arrangements for the project have not been properly considered.

However Lambeth Council responded by saying that the bridge would potentially benefit both "the local and wider London economy".

The £175 million bridge is described as a "floating garden" connecting Temple and the South Bank, and is on course to open in 2018.

Dubbed "the most expensive footbridge in the world", the Thomas Heatherwick-designed walkway will consist of two fluted piers holding up a promenade planted with trees, shrubs and flowers.

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The bridge has been approved by Westminster and Lambeth councils and City Hall with construction scheduled to start by the ends of the year.

So far City Hall and the Treasury have committed £30 million each, with a further £50 million coming from private donations.

240 tonnes of the material that will be required to clad the 1,1214ft walkway has been donated by multinational mining company Glencore.

It brings donations to the Garden Bridge Trust, the charity set up to deliver the bridge conceived by actress Joanna Lumley, to more than £120 million.

Individual Londoners will soon be asked to help fundraise towards the remaining £55 million needed for construction to begin in 2016.

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