Thomas Heatherwick was forced to defend his Garden Bridge project after it was revealed on BBC’s Newsnight that he was short £22 million.
The long awaited Garden Bridge championed by Joanna Lumley and designed by Thomas Heatherwick has suffered a setback when it was exposed to be £22 million short of private investments.
The Newsnight investigation showed a number of key investors to have backed out leaving the project strapped for cash.
Heatherwick was adamant, however, that the show must go on.
“Money has been spent to get this far,” said Heatherwick. “It is ready to go, and it is important that our society doesn’t show that we suddenly have no confidence in ourselves… that we don’t suddenly seem like, ‘Yep, we’ve had a political turmoil, now we suddenly close up and we’re just going to go backwards.'”
The bridge was designed as a 367-metre-long garden walkway with full sized trees connecting the Southbank to Temple and costing £175 million. The project is similar to the popular Highline Park in New York.
£60 million of the budget comes from government funding with the rest coming from private investors, several of which have now pulled out.
The project has also raised some controversy as campaign groups believe it will bring even more tourists to the already very busy Southbank.
The National Audit Office has now launched an official inquiry into the handling of the £30 million Department of Transport grant for the project.
The preliminary construction work was suspended by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, earlier this month with the opening date being moved back from 2018 to 2019.