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Donors to Sue Garden Bridge Trust Over Project

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

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Wealthy individuals who provided financial donations to London’s Garden Bridge project are now seeking to sue the charity behind the endeavor, with one alleging that the money had been flushed away when the project fell apart.

According to the Architects Journal, construction never started on the 200-million-pound ($252 million) bridge project, which was designed by Thomas Heatherwick.

Garden Bridge History

The nonprofit Garden Bridge Trust announced in August 2017 that it was “winding up” the project, which has already cost London taxpayers an estimated 37.4 million pounds. London Mayor Sadiq Khan announced in late April that he was pulling city support from the project, citing what he called “exorbitant” costs to build and maintain the structure.

The pedestrian bridge would have spanned the Thames between the Waterloo Bridge and Blackfriars Bridge, near landmarks like the Tate Modern. Plans called for the bridge to be covered with vegetation, including 270 trees, and the structure would have been plated with nickel-copper cladding that supporters said would have been maintenance-free for 120 years.

Arup

The pedestrian bridge would have spanned the Thames between the Waterloo Bridge and Blackfriars Bridge, near landmarks like the Tate Modern.

The bridge, designed by Heatherwick Studio with help from engineers at Arup and landscape architect Dan Pearson, was originally slated to be completed in 2018. Last year, the Trust awarded the construction contract to a joint venture of Bouygues Travaux Publics and Cimolai SpA, and said it planned for the bridge to open in 2019.

Former London mayor Boris Johnson was called forward in December 2017 to answer questions regarding the ill-fated project. In March, Johnson alleged that he could not recall why he signed the key directive as mayor of London, while also noting that the funding conditions had been met by the charity behind the project. He was subsequently asked why he had watered down some of these conditions.

In May, a report indicated that the Trust was made aware of several problems with the project before the contract was signed for construction to begin—and of the fact that there was no guarantee the funding could be raised to address these issues.

Recouping Donations

The Trust currenly owes private donors roughly 7 million pounds; taxpayers are expected to take a loss of 43 million pounds. Many donors are also now claiming that the Trust broke promises that money would be returned if the project was not completed. The Trust has said that all charity funds will be returned, as per the law, but law firm Freeths has already started to take action for one anonymous donor who gave 250,000 pounds for a self-named bench on the bridge.

Michael Gross, founder and owner of Sydney & London Properties, who gave 50,000 pounds toward the project, noted that he felt his money was wasted by “a bunch of incompetents,” and that he felt conned.

Currently, the trust is seeking 5.1 million pounds from Transport for London for a 9-million-pound provision for cancellation. A spokesperson for the Garden Bridge Trust noted that the “trust has taken great care to ensure that the funds it has received have been correctly applied in accordance with the legal advice it has received.”

   

Tagged categories: Bridges; EU; Europe; Funding; Government; Lawsuits; Program/Project Management; Project Management

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