The Garden Bridge Trust has warned that plans for the controversial bridge across the Thames may not be viable and that delays have increased the cost of the project.
In a statement at the beginning of its annual accounts, chair Lord Mervyn Davies said that trustees were ‘unable to conclude that the Trust is a going concern and feel it only appropriate to flag these risks in this report’.
What the bridge might look like if built
Lord Davies added that the trustees were hoping to resolve ‘material uncertainties’ in the coming months but that if not ‘they will need to consider the further delay to the project, and in a worst case scenario, whether the project remains viable’.
The Trust said that it had secured £69m of private funding ‘even without a brick in place’, on top of £60m public funding, and had a strong fundraising pipeline.
It cited delays ‘resulting from activities beyond the control of Trustees’, such as judicial reviews, protracted negotiations with third parties and ‘a changing political climate’, and warned that ‘these delays have led to an increase in total project cost’.
The cost of the project has until now been said to be £185m. The Trust warned that the final cost could ‘substantially exceed’ this.
However, Lord Davies said the Trust had completed detailed pre-construction work and had a contractor on board and expected to start construction this year.
The project has been beset with difficulties, including claims of conflicts of interest, doubts over private fundraising, an inquiry by incoming London mayor Sadiq Khan and a delay in filing its accounts.
Substantial amounts of money could be lost if the Graden Bridge does not go ahead, Mr Khan has said
, with at least £37.7m having already been spent by the Garden Bridge Trust.