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Toilets and terrorism: Lambeth approves Garden Bridge plans

Lambeth councillors have signed off five more of the conditions attached to the planning permission for the Garden Bridge.

Toilets and terrorism: Lambeth approves Garden Bridge plans
Councillors have approved the proposed materials for the South Bank landing building to be attached to the Garden Bridge
Toilets and terrorism: Lambeth approves Garden Bridge plans
Image showing the entrance to the proposed public toilets underneath the South Bank approach to the Garden Bridge

Last month Lambeth's planning applications committee asked the Garden Bridge Trust to reconsider the materials for the building and lift shaft to be constructed on the South Bank as part of the controversial new river crossing.

Councillors had criticised the design of the proposed building, describing it as "bleak", "overbearing" and giving a "stay away from here" message to would-be visitors.

The Garden Bridge Trust was also asked to rethink the proposals for unisex public toilets.

This week, the revised plans were approved by the same committee, along with the bridge's counter-terrorism strategy and details relating to piling, construction noise and vibrations.

The committee heard that temporary noise barriers up to 4 metres high will erected on the South Bank to shield ITV's London Television Centre and IBM's offices from Garden Bridge construction noise.

Phillip Hall-Patch from Heatherwick Studio explained that 'quartz grey' had been chosen to replace the previously proposed 'brown grey' material on the lift shaft and elements of the South Bank building.

"Over 20 different colours and shades were considered and viewed under both natural and artificial lighting conditions to inform Thomas Heatherwick's selection of the revised colour," he said.

"The colour selected is notably lighter than that previously presented to committee.

"It is a mid-to-light grey colour which we believe complements the colour palette of the project as a whole."

Arup's Rob Leslie-Carter said that the toilets presented a "significant additional amenity to this area of the South Bank".

Michael Wood of the Garden Bridge Trust addressed the committee on the counter-terrorism strategy, introducing himself as a former Metropolitan Police chief inspector who, when he was based at Kennington Police Station, was responsible for South Bank policing.

Most of the detail of the counter-terrorism arrangements has been kept secret for security reasons.

The committee was addressed by Vauxhall MP Kate Hoey who called for the council to put the decisions on hold whilst the Garden Bridge project faces national scrutiny.

"Everyone is aware that there are real problems about how this whole process has been handled from day one by TfL, by Lambeth and by the planning officers," she said.

"I really would say that this should not have been going ahead tonight. Some of those deep concerns are going to be subject to parliamentary debate."

Bishop's ward councillors Jennifer Mosley and Ben Kind also addressed the meeting with concerns and questions about the Garden Bridge project.

Michael Ball of the Thames Central Open Spaces campaign group presented advice from the British Toilet Association, who said that around 30 toilets would be required to meet the anticipated demand from Garden Bridge visitors.

He described the proposal to offer 6 cubicles and 3 urinals as "laughable", pointing out that the London Eye has five times as many toilets.

Bee Emmott, executive director of the Garden Bridge Trust, said: "We are making strong progress on the project with 80 per cent of the Lambeth conditions signed off and over £145 million raised towards building the bridge.

"It's a really exciting time for the project with real momentum building. We can't wait to begin construction this summer."

Read a Storify digest of @se1's tweets from the meeting

• The final batch of conditions that require consideration by councillors is due to be presented to April's meeting of the planning applications committee.

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