Shortfall may threaten the future of Garden Bridge project


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The trust which has been the driving force behind a much-publicised project to build a new bridge across the River Thames has admitted it is facing significant financial challenges.

The Garden Bridge Trust has revealed it needs an estimated £185million to complete the structure, which will span the river between Temple and the South Bank. Yet its annual accounts show a shortfall of £56million.

The documents acknowledge that in a “worst case scenario” the organisation may have to consider if the project is still viable, but trustees this week attempted to play down suggestions that the future of the plans was in jeopardy.

Lord Davies, a former trade minister who is now the trust’s chairman, said that it was expected that construction work would begin later this year.

However, in his introduction to the paperwork made public this week, the peer admitted that “due to the material uncertainties in existence ahead of finalising these accounts, trustees are unable to conclude that the trust is a going concern, and feel it only appropriate to flag these risks in this report.”

The 366metre bridge has previously been described as a “floating garden”, with around 270 trees and thousands of other plants to be cultivated along the top of the structure.

The development, which was originally conceived by the actress Joanna Lumley and won the favour of former London Mayor Boris Johnson, has been beset by problems for a number of years.

In September, Mr Johnson’s successor Sadiq Khan ordered a review into whether the scheme had offered value for money.

The findings have yet to be published, but Mr Khan has already suggested that some £40million of public money has been spent on the venture to date and he has made clear that no additional funds would be made available from town hall’s coffers.