The Garden Bridge Trust has confirmed it asked the transport secretary Chris Grayling to extend a £15m guarantee, following a series of ‘hold-ups’ that have delayed construction work.
The Trust said it had has made ‘great progress’ on the controversial project this year including ‘strong progress on private fundraising’.
The news comes as press reports suggest Mr Grayling is launching a probe into whether to proceed with the private project due to fears in the Treasury around value for money.
Work has yet to begin on the Garden Bridge
A Trust spokesperson added: ‘There have however been some hold-ups to the project and we will not start construction until we have concluded land deals on both sides of the river, and completed all outstanding planning matters. We aim to have done this by the autumn.
‘The Trust has asked for the Government’s £15m underwriting of the project to be extended to September 2017 – from the existing £60m public funding package. This is insurance against anything happening to halt the project and is a necessary precaution. We have written to the new secretary of state for transport and we are in regular contact with the Department for Transport.’
A Department for Transport (DfT) spokesperson confirmed that ministers are considering the request.
At the DfT’s request, the Trust has supplied financial information to support its request for an extension.
The Trust also confirmed that it has delayed filing its accounts, which had led to further speculation that it was in financial difficulty.
It said it currently has a year end date of October, which reflects the commencement date of the Trust but had ‘decided to align the future year end to March which is a common year end date for charities’.
This will result in accounts being prepared for a 17-month period from October 2014 to the end of March 2016 and filed with Companies House in December.