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St Paul’s objects to Garden Bridge over the Thames

19 December 2014

ARUP

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."

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