Plans have been unveiled for a Thomas Heatherwick-designed pedestrian bridge across the Thames between Victoria Embankment and the South Bank.
The proposed bridge – to be funded by private sponsorship – could be completed as soon as 2016 and would span the Thames between ITV's London Television Centre and HQS Wellington on the Embankment.
"Proposals for a new landmark pedestrian bridge are being developed to link Temple with the South Bank, in line with the Mayor's transport strategy and aspirations to improve pedestrian access and river crossings," said Michele Dix, Transport for London's managing director for planning.
"The bridge will help support economic activity whilst providing commuters arriving at Waterloo with alternative options to cross the river.
"These plans for the bridge are being developed by Heatherwick Studio and Arup following a competitive tender conducted by Transport for London.
"Current emerging ideas for the bridge include direct routes for pedestrians alongside the creation of a major public space across the Thames incorporating a garden.
"TfL will work with the relevant authorities including Westminster, Lambeth and the Port of London Authority to further develop these plans, steering them through to planning permission stage. The construction of the structure is entirely dependent on third party funding."
Thomas Heatherwick said: "With its rich heritage of allotments, gardens, heathland, parks and squares, London is one of the greenest cities in the world. In this context we are excited to have been selected by TfL to explore the opportunity of a pedestrian river crossing.
"The idea is simple; to connect north and south London with a garden. We have been working with actor and campaigner Joanna Lumley, who has been a proponent of such an idea for several years."
Joanna Lumley said: "It's quite strange to talk of something that doesn't exist yet, but the Garden Bridge is already vivid in the plans and the imagination
"This garden will be sensational in every way: a place with no noise or traffic where the only sounds will be birdsong and bees buzzing and the wind in the trees, and below the steady rush of water. It will be the slowest way to cross the river, as people will dawdle and lean on parapets and stare at the great cityscapes all around; but it will also be a safe and swift way for the weary commuter to make his way back over the Thames.
"There will be grasses, trees, wild flowers, and plants, unique to London's natural riverside habitat. And there will be blossom in the spring and even a Christmas tree in mid-winter. I believe it will bring to Londoners and visitors alike peace and beauty and magic."
Heatherwick's scheme is not the first pedestrian bridge to be put forward for this location.
In 1996 Antoine Grumbach proposed a crossing – also called the Garden Bridge – which would include two 35-storey towers at the northern end and a tropical greenhouse at the southern end.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson has long shown an interest in habitable and living bridges – most recently suggesting that the disused columns of Blackfriars Railway Bridge could be reused for a green crossing.
It is 13 years since the opening of the Millennium Bridge between Bankside and the City of London and a decade since the twin Golden Jubilee Bridges from the Royal Festival Hall to Charing Cross received their official opening.
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