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Garden Bridge Trust issues revised construction timetable

Organisers of the Garden Bridge have vowed to open the Thomas Heatherwick-designed Thames crossing in less than 1,000 days despite the scheme facing a judicial review.

As reported in Construction News sister title Architects’ Journal, the Garden Bridge Trust has published a revised construction timetable which highlights how the bridge will be completed in less than three years, ready for June 2018.

The decision to press ahead with the construction timetable comes despite local resident Michael Ball’s ongoing judicial review, which challenges Lambeth Council’s decision to approve the controversial bridge.

Criticism of the scheme has continued in recent months and only last week, Mr Ball took part in a public meeting in Waterloo that heard from a wide range of Garden Bridge opponents, ranging from architects and engineers to cycling campaigners and the Tax Payers’ Alliance.

Under the new timetable set out by the trust, the bridge will be prefabricated off site in Italy before being shipped to the UK and floated up the Thames where it will be assembled.

A consortium including Bouygues TP and Cimolai was confirmed as the preferred bidder for the project earlier this month and is currently identifying design priorities, due to be submitted to the Garden Bridge Trust in August.

According to the new timetable, dredging will begin in the early part of 2016, followed by the installation of construction platforms and of the north and south landings later in the year.

During spring and autumn 2017, the prefabricated parts of the bridge will be transported up the Thames to be assembled before the bridge itself opens to the public in the summer of 2018.

Garden Bridge Trust programme director Anthony Marley said: “We are all systems go, with a construction timetable that is realistic and deliverable, building in time to deal with issues that may arise.”

A trust spokesperson added that fundraising “remained on track” with £127m pledged and the trust’s “first-ever fundraising gala” to be held at Harrods next month.

The spokesperson added: “The store’s flagship restaurant, The Georgian, will be transformed into a garden, where guests can enjoy dinner, an auction and a live performance by singer-songwriter Jessie Ware.”

A High Court judge last month ruled that Lambeth Council may have ignored potential funding gaps – a decision which paves the way for questions over the £175m bridge’s maintenance costs to be included at the forthcoming judicial review hearing in June.

The ruling means the judicial review will now challenge the bridge on two fronts – its impact on central London’s iconic views and its maintenance costs.

The review was dismissed by Garden Bridge adviser and former construction tsar Paul Morrell as an ‘annoyance’ earlier this year.

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