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Hundreds pack church for Garden Bridge protest meeting

Hundreds of people packed into St John's Waterloo on Monday night to hear a panel of high-profile speakers denounce plans to build a Garden Bridge between the South Bank and Victoria Embankment.

Hundreds pack church for Garden Bridge protest meeting
Hundreds pack church for Garden Bridge protest meeting
Garden Bridge (Image: Arup)

The public meeting was called by the Thames Central Open Spaces campaign to build support for the legal challenge being brought by Michael Ball.

Lambeth Council's decision to approve the controversial bridge – devised by Joanna Lumley and designed by Thomas Heatherwick – will be the subject of judicial review proceedings at the High Court on Wednesday 10 and Thursday 11 June.

The meeting heard from opponents of the Garden Bridge from across the political spectrum, including Green Party leader Natalie Bennett, Labour London Assembly member Val Shawcross, Labour mayoral contender Christian Wolmar, Lib Dem Caroline Pidgeon AM and Jonathan Isaby of the TaxPayers' Alliance pressure group.

Speakers set out a series of objections to the design of the bridge, its location, its high cost, the use of public funds, the proposed management regime and the way that the scheme had been driven through the planning process.

Other speakers included London Cycling Campaign chair Ann Kenrick, architectural writer Gavin Stamp and guerrilla gardener Richard Reynolds.

Speakers from the floor complained of all-night noise in recent days from the Garden Bridge borehole drilling rig in the Thames and voiced concerns about the role of South Bank landowner Coin Street Community Builders.

The Garden Bridge Trust last week published new images of the proposed planting on the bridge designed by Dan Pearson. The trust claims to have raised 125 million of its 175 million target, including 60 million of public money.

A spokesperson for the trust said: "The Garden Bridge is being built for Londoners and mostly funded by trusts and foundations, business and individual donors.

"It will be free, and open to all between 6am and midnight every day, with the exception of a small number of days each year when it will stage special events to help meet running costs.

"The trust has a robust business plan to ensure the bridge is self-funded and can remain a special place for Londoners to use.

"We are committed to the bridge being a good neighbour for the South Bank and local people, producing real benefits in terms of attracting investment and providing jobs, and are working closely with local councils to deliver our vision for a unique experience for pedestrians."

Read our Tweets from Monday night's meeting below...

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