Actress Joanna Lumley has brushed aside criticism of London’s £175 million Garden Bridge – saying plans for the horticultural river crossing are “coming along marvellously”.

Newspaper reports claimed the cost of the bridge could fund up to 30 new parks while some critics have branded the scheme a “vanity project” that could cost up to £3.5million per year to run.

Concerns have been raised that its dense planting could attract anti-social behaviour.

But Absolutely Fabulous star Joanna, who championed the bridge from the outset, dismissed media negativity.

Speaking exclusively to Amateur Gardening, Joanna said: “Something of this scale is bound to get criticism. That’s the way the world is. The newspapers are duty-bound to show the negative side.”

She added: “We did a poll and 87 per cent of Londoners can’t wait for it to start.”

The Garden Bridge has been designed by Dan Pearson, who won gold and best-in-show at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show [2015] for his Laurent-Perrier Chatsworth Garden.

Free to cross, the foot bridge will be open from 6am to 12pm, linking Temple on the north bank of the Thames to an area between Blackfriars and Waterloo on the south.

Joanna went on: “The big copper dams will go into the Thames in spring next year
It will be completed in 2018.

“It’s a pedestrian bridge and will be in complete quietness and beauty. All the other bridges have got traffic and trains whizzing past, except for the Millennium Bridge which you race across.

“This will be a dawdling bridge with winding paths. You won’t be able to see from one side to the other because of the planting and way it winds around.

“It will bring peace and happiness to Londoners who cross the Thames every day.”

Planting on the bridge, by contractor Willerby Landscapes, will begin in November 2017.

The soil depth is expected to range from 16in (40cm) to 6.5ft (2m).

  • Joseph Ogden

    The Evening Standard tells us the floating garden islands on the Seine are “contrived … pleasant enough to spend a short amount of time in when the weather’s nice but too tokenistic to make you want to linger, or indeed revisit. They are gimmicks rather than impressive additions to the city.” For some reason the paper doesn’t draw the obvious conclusion that if you scale up a Paris garden island three times you end up with a Thames garden bridge with three times the gimmickry and three times the tokenism. And a huge amount of vandalism in the making of it.

  • michael ball

    You do a disservice with a puff piece so one-sided. Newspapers “report” the cost is equivalent to 30 parks? Yes, at £6m a throw – the cost of Jubilee Gardens, which is three times the size of the bridge – would amount to the same cost as this over-engineered private bridge. The people who “claim” it will cost £3.5m per year to run are the Garden Bridge Trust themselves. And so on. Why do you think Hugh Johnson, President of the Metropolitan Gardens Association is against this?
    Time you commissioned a balanced article, methinks

  • Marshman

    I’m really disappointed to see Joanna Lumley promoting the claim of 87% support, which is so misleading. This statistic is regularly referred to by the sponsors of the scheme, but is based on responses to the outline CONCEPT of a Gdn Bdg back in 2013 – and in any case less than 2,500 people responded across the whole nation. At that point, many people were not even clear where it was intended to be built, let alone the extraordinary details and impact of the bridge on central London which are now making it so unpopular. It is in no way representative of current attitudes to the idea, as thousands sign petitions opposing the project in the proposed location.

    People are now waking up to the facts that the bridge will be privately owned, with no public right of way, require the felling of 34 mature riverside trees, the construction of commercial buildings on green, open, riverside space – and the blocking of some of the most spectacular and well loved views of London.

    It’s therefore not surprising that the calls to stop it are growing louder by the day. I still hope Joanna Lumley will think again – this is no longer the project she clearly dreamed it would be.

  • Bridgetoofar

    You only have to look at the claims made by the Garden Bridge Trust to see that they are using greenwash to try and get this thing through:

    For example:
    “We are committed to advancing public education and training in horticulture and arboriculture on the Garden Bridge.”

    Are they going to hold composting masterclasses in the horizontal drizzle on the bridge while some G4S heavies keep the heaving mass of tourists, school parties and Chinese wedding photograph groups at bay?

    Or will putting up a few information panels be about as far as it goes?
    It is nothing more than a vanity project. Even if it didn’t cost a penny of public money, it shouldn’t be built. It is absolutely unbelievable that it has got as far as it has.

  • follyforLondon

    A piece of transport infrastructure that one has to queue with 2,500 people with to use.

    A ‘green’ project made of concrete and removing existing trees and green space.

    A ‘free’ crossing that costs between £60 and £150m of taxpayers’ money.

    A quiet and dawdling experience with 7million tourists a year.

    A piece of beauty which blocks historic views of world heritage sites.

    A public park which is privately owned and managed at hours and rules of the private company’s choosing.

    It’s an absurd folly for london.

  • follyforLondon

    Why are you removing negative comments even if they don’t contain any untruths or bad language? Are you not allowing criticism?