THE Dean and Chapter of St Paul's have "serious misgivings" over
the proposed Garden Bridge over the Thames (above), which
has been approved by Westminster City Council.
In a letter to the council's planning department last month, the
cathedral's surveyor, Oliver Caroe, said that the bridge would
seriously damage views of St Paul's.
The pedestrian bridge, designed by Thomas Heatherwick, who also
created the 2012 Olympic Cauldron and the new London bus, would
incorporate trees, shrubs, and wildflowers. It would span the
Thames at Temple Station on the north side.
But Mr Caroe said that St Paul's had not been consulted by the
council, and that the Garden Bridge would significantly reduce
legally protected sightlines of the cathedral.
"There will be irreversible impacts on some of the most iconic
views of St Paul's Cathedral, to the detriment of our capital
city," Mr Caroe wrote. "We strongly concur with the expert view of
the Corporation of the City of London and Westminster City
Council's own officer that there are 'significant harms' and
'serious detriment' to views that Parliament and the Greater London
Authority have legislated to protect."
The Garden Bridge Trust has said that the lost views of St
Paul's would be made up for by new ones created from vantage points
on the bridge itself. But Mr Caroe's letter argues that the Trust
has not provided evidence of these new views, so its application
should be thrown out.
Despite the letter, Westminster's planning committee approved
the northern half of the Garden Bridge earlier this month. The
southern half had already been given the green light by Lambeth
Council. Final approval lies with the Mayor of London, Boris
Johnson, who is to consider the application today.
A spokesman from the Garden Bridge Trust said: "We carried out
extensive consultation before submitting the planning application
to Lambeth and Westminster City Council, although there was no
statutory obligation to consult with St Paul's.
"We are here to work with local custodians to make this as
beneficial for everybody in London as possible. We believe the
Garden Bridge will protect existing views along the River Thames,
enhance others, and provide new beautiful views up and down the
river that are currently not possible."
St Paul's declined to comment further except to back the
concerns of Mr Caroe, who wrote in his letter: "We . . . have a
responsibility to act as stewards of the great heritage of Wren's
cathedral on behalf of city and nation. At present the voice of the
cathedral . . . has not been fully heard."