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Lambeth’s Garden Bridge decision to face scrutiny

London SE1 website team

A controversial decision to allow Lambeth Council land on the South Bank to be used for the Garden Bridge has been 'called in' for scrutiny by Lambeth councillors.

Jack Hopkins
Cllr Jack Hopkins

The proposed £175 million footbridge between Victoria Embankment and the South Bank – devised by Joanna Lumley and designed by Thomas Heatherwick – requires the use of land on the Queen's Walk between the ITV studios and the river.

The land – currently covered with grass and trees – is owned by Lambeth Council and leased to Coin Street Community Builders.

On Maundy Thursday Cllr Jack Hopkins – the borough's cabinet member for jobs and growth – gave his approval to proposals which will see Coin Street's lease varied in order to allow the land to be sub-leased to the Garden Bridge Trust.

The decision was made despite the council having received more than 3,500 objections.

Opposition and backbench councillors had five working days to 'call in' the decision for further scrutiny. Because of the Easter holiday weekend, the call-in deadline was on Monday this week.

It emerged on Tuesday that two call-in requests had been lodged with the council before the deadline, and a meeting of the borough's overview & scrutiny committee will now be held in the next couple of weeks to probe the decision.

Lambeth has not yet revealed which councillors tabled the call-in requests.

Separately from the Lambeth land question, controversy over the way the initial contracts for the design of the Garden Bridge were awarded has continued to rage, including a highly critical report from a London Assembly committee.

Last month we asked Labour mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan why he was continuing to back the Garden Bridge despite the criticisms made by the London Assembly and others.

He told us: "There are serious questions about procurement, and those are questions that the mayor needs to answer."

He added: "If I have the privilege of being the Mayor of London, I will be looking into the procurement processes of how contracts were given, and supporting that there is a review."

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