Planning permission for the Thames Garden Bridge expires in December, and while Sadiq Khan does not have the authority to scrap the project, his announcement not to provide further mayoral guarantees has effectively done so.
This has been a project plagued with controversy since procurement of the bridge. The deepest criticism has stemmed from the intention to spend some £200million of taxpayers' money - a figure which it has since been revealed would be exceeded in order to fund the project. Access restrictions and concerns over how it would affect views and wildlife, particularly in the context of existing bridges in the vicinity, have also raised eyebrows.
The Garden Bridge is not the first imagined of its kind; there have been other pedestrian bridge proposals over the Thames. Amongst these are Nine Elms Bridge, another project shrouded in opposition by locals, and Canary Wharf & Rotherhithe Bridge, both in the feasibility stages. A more advanced project is the Diamond Jubilee Bridge, linking Battersea and Fulham. It has received planning permission and works are due to commence imminently, but notably it has not made the news in the same way as the Garden Bridge . The reason for this is the perceived necessity for the bridge in Battersea; its main aim is to facilitate access, not to provide a floating playground for those entitled to cross. The aim is that the Diamond Jubilee Bridge will open up footfall and ease commuting between the areas. Reducing traffic congestion would also be positive for the environment.
In contrast, the Garden Bridge is seen as an extravagant symbol which has no place in today's climate. Developments no longer evolve and exist in isolation, particularly in an increasingly built-up environment. This is perhaps most apparent in the City in the design and planning process for tall buildings.
The unraveling of the Garden Bridge serves as a warning to would-be schemes which face early opposition, highlighting the importance of ensuring development is sensitive to public sentiment and making it clear that overcoming ill-sentiment is no small feat.
In a city where affordable housing can mean paying as high as 80 percent of the market rate, perhaps it's not surprising that there was a disconnect between Lumley's vision for the bridge and the material facts of life for most Londoners, manifesting in a strange unreality, symptomatic of wider inequality.