It was supposed to be London’s answer to New York’s High Line. But it left the gap that really needs bridging as wide as ever
The garden bridge project, the superfluous and now abandoned plan to build a Thames crossing in the richest and best connected heart of London, may one day be judged the peak of the capital’s narcissistic hubris. It was a vanity project of a group of cronies that included the then mayor Boris Johnson – the man who is now Britain’s face to the world – with the then chancellor, George Osborne, the celebrity Joanna Lumley and her protege, the architect Thomas Heatherwick, masquerading as public benefactors. Between them, mayor and chancellor were in a position to commit up to £60m of public money, of which nearly £40m has been spent.
It is a measure of the project’s flakiness that, now that the two have moved on, the project has collapsed. A great deal of public money that might have been profitably invested in the cash-starved Midlands and the north has been wasted. But at least the taxpayer has been spared a continuing cost that might have run into further millions, and a folly that would have stood for all that was worst about the chumocracy years of the Cameron era.