Courtroom problem to London Backyard Bridge plans | London

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Plans to build the Garden Bridge across the Thames are being challenged in the High Court.

Activists have already attacked the wisdom of spending taxpayers’ money on what they have dubbed “the folly of the Luvvies.”

Now a local resident is claiming the London Borough of Lambeth illegally granted planning permission for the £175million bridge in central London.

Michael Ball, from Tulse Hill, south London, fears its impact will be devastating and will spoil some of the best views of the city and St Paul’s Cathedral.

Among the proponents of the footbridge is actress Joanna Lumley, who first came up with the idea in the late 1990s.

The proposal is for the bridge to run from the South Bank in the Borough of Lambeth across the River Thames to the roof of Temple Tube station in Westminster. It was designed by Olympic boiler designer Thomas Heatherwick along with engineer Arup and gardener Dan Pearson.

The London Garden Bridge Trust says the project will greatly benefit London as it links cultural centers and tourist attractions on both banks of the river. They say it will also create new routes that avoid busy roads, allow for safer walking and improve pedestrian safety, while also offering a new attraction for tourists.

However, Ball’s lawyers argue that Lambeth Council has failed in its duty to protect the historic surroundings of listed buildings in the area, including Somerset House. They also claim that long-term funding arrangements for the project were not properly considered.

Ball, who was born near the site, complained to the local building authority about the impact the bridge would have on local residents. He said it would also be bad for visitors to the South Bank, with “football-game-sized people” blocking the river path to the point where it becomes dangerous.

Ball is a former director of the Waterloo Community Development Group (WCDG), a community planning organization that has championed planning policy in the area since the early 1970s. He said: “The impact of the Garden Bridge will be devastating.

“The best view of the city and St Paul’s is compromised from Waterloo Bridge and completely blocked along the South Bank, one of Europe’s great promenades and London’s most popular walking area.”

Mr Ball said he was “particularly mortified” by the way the bridge received approval, “beginning with private letters to Boris Johnson, bypassing both strategic planning and public procurement rules and backed by a faulty and insufficient planning examination”.

His lawyer, Richard Stein, of the Leigh Day law firm’s human rights team, said: “This appears to be a ill-conceived project which, while attractive at first sight, reveals serious flaws on a number of important aspects on closer inspection. This is reflected in the growing public concern about the bridge.

“We are asking the court to quash planning permission and send the project back to Lambeth for a much more thorough consideration before such a significant change is made to the historic heart of London.”

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