15 August 2017
The Garden Bridge has fallen down
I read today that plans for the £200m Garden Bridge that was due to span the Thames from Temple to South Bank have been abandoned and the project will no longer go ahead. Good.
The 366-metre bridge that was first proposed by Joanna Lumley was meant to provide a brand new green space right in the centre of London. One that would “...bring us together, to soothe weary souls, to help people move around and to ease congestion…” A very noble aim, apart from the fact that London already has some big parks that fit this bill just perfectly. No, this was nothing more than an unnecessary vanity project, a game of Keeping Up With The Joneses. Sure, New York City has the Highline, but so what?
Now, this isn’t to say that London doesn’t need more nature because it absolutely does - there's far too much soul-sapping concrete and tarmac in this city. How about spending some of that £200m planting trees in the streets and sticking some hanging baskets on lamp posts so that the whole of London can enjoy some nature on the way to and from work?
An even better use of the money would be to buy everyone that works in an office a desk plant. A 2014 study by psychologists at Cardiff University found that adding plants to previously austere offices boosted the productivity of workers by 15%. No, that’s not a typo - fifteen bloody percent! I just had a quick look on Homebase and you can buy a nice indoor plant for £2.99. That’s almost 67 million plants. Forget London; that’s enough for every UK office worker a few times over.
If we really want to stick with the bridge theme then why don’t we use the money to build some truly useful bridges; ones that can carry cars, lorries, busses, cyclists and pedestrians around with greater ease than at present? Easing congestion is one of the best things you can do to reduce pollution.
“Let’s get on and build something that we can all be proud of and that the rest of the world can admire,” quipped Lord Davies, the chairman of the project, in a recent article.