London's garden bridge granted planning permission

London garden bridge

London's garden bridge has been granted planning permission by Westminster Council.

The plans by architect Thomas Heatherwick and actress Joanna Lumley to build a bridge over the Thames had already been approved by Lambeth Council, the other authority involved in the scheme.

They must now be rubber-stamped by the Mayor of London. If permission is granted, building is due to start late next year. Words: PA

The council took into account the creation of 270 jobs, economic benefits of better access to the Temple area and the ease of movement the bridge could provide for disabled people and children.

Of 292 responses to the planning consultation, 279 were in favour of the plans.

The mayor's office has already pledged £30 million through Transport for London and another £30 million is due to come from the Treasury.

The remainder of the total cost of £175 million will be made up by private donors, with £110 million already pledged.

The Garden Bridge Trust plan to ask for donations from the public next year.

However, critics have raised concerns that the bridge may limit views of St Paul's Cathedral and other landmarks.

A report drafted for the committee considering planning permission said there would be "significant impact" on views and that if the plans were for a commercial development the application would likely be refused.

Councillor Robert Davis, deputy leader of Westminster City Council, who chaired the committee, said: "This is something that is iconic and absolutely unique, and will be recognised right across the world.

"I understand the concerns about potential loss of views, but there is no doubting that this bridge will bring substantial and significant benefits to London."

According to the Garden Bridge Trust website, the bridge is designed to be "somewhere to meet and spend time, with education and volunteering opportunities so people can get their hands dirty, helping with the upkeep of this new community garden".

"It will also provide a new link between cultural centres and tourist attractions on the north and south banks," it says.

London's weirdest attractions
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London's garden bridge granted planning permission

Fancy a walk under the River Thames? The Greenwich Foot Tunnel opened in 1902 so that south London residents could walk to work in the docks on the Isle of Dogs. Designed by Sir Alexander Binnie, the 1,217 ft long tunnel provides a pedestrian link between Cutty Sark Gardens and Island Gardens, Tower Hamlets. An incredible 200,000 glazed white tiles line the tunnel walls and when you emerge at the riverside at Island Gardens you can enjoy splendid views of Maritime Greenwich. Nearest stations: Cutty Sark or Island Gardens on the DLR network.

It was temporarily removed for Tower Hamlets Council to remodel the roundabout in the Isle of Dogs where it stood, but French sculptor Pierre Vivant's Traffic Light Tree is said to be returning to East London and will be re-installed on the Trafalgar Way roundabout near Billingsgate Market. The iconic green Traffic Light Tree is a multi-facing assortment of red, amber and green signals that often confuses motorists but was installed to imitate "the natural landscape of the adjacent London Plane Trees, while the changing pattern of the lights reveals and reflects the never ending rhythm of the surrounding domestic, financial and commercial activities". Nearest tube: Canary Wharf.

Find Ancient Rome in the centre of London just a few hundred yards from Tower Hill Tube station. The London Wall was the defensive wall first built by the Romans around the Roman city of Londinium and represented the status of the city, as well as providing defence. Many of the buildings which once hid the stone wall set north of the Tower of London have been cleared away so you can enjoy a clear view of the site that defined the shape and size of the city for over a millennium. 

Located in the garret of St Thomas's Church near London Bridge Underground Station, the Old Operating Theatre was used during the 19th century by doctors who performed amputations, surgeries and operations in front of their students. Visit the refurbished theatre and browse natural remedies, including snail water for venereal disease and bladderwrack for tuberculosis. There is also a display of amputation knives and blades and demonstrations on Victorian speed surgery and how drugs were made. Nearest underground: London Bridge.

In Twickenham, visitors to York House can check out the surprising and odd statues of naked female figures in the gardens. The Naked Ladies adorn a cascade and pool, and were imported from Italy by a fraudulent financier who took his own life when he was convicted in 1904. The statues depict eight Oceanids and a pair of aquatic horses. Nearest station: Twickenham.

For the ultimate weird day out in London, head for Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!, home to the unusual and plain bizarre. There are more than 700 artefacts and curiosities from all around the world to marvel at, including an elaborate Indian Mardi Gras costume, authentic Ecuadorian shrunken heads and prehistoric turtle shells over 215 million years old. Don't miss the scale model of Tower Bridge made entirely out of matchsticks, a portrait of Kate Middleton made from lipstick kisses and a life-sized knitted Ferrari made from 12 miles of wool. Nearest tube: Piccadilly Circus.

Highgate Cemetery isn't just any cemetery. Its most famous resident is Karl Marx, whose memorial in the East Cemetery attracts visitors from all over the world. George Eliot, Christina Rossetti and Douglas Adams are other famous Londoners buried here. Laid out in 1839, the West Cemetery is home to ivy-clad monuments and the most impressive architectural features of the cemetery. It can only be visited by guided tour. At the weekend, just turn up and take the next tour (you need to book in advance for weekday tours). Nearest tube: Highgate.

Once used by a single officer as a lookout during political demos in the 19th century, this modest box in a corner of Trafalgar Square is London's smallest police station. It's made from a hollowed-out lamp post and apparently had a direct line to Scotland Yard. Today it is used as storage for Westminster's street cleaners. Nearest tube: Charing Cross.

Take a stroll down the cobbled wizarding Diagon Alley from Harry Potter, close to London's Charing Cross. The alley where all items on the Hogwarts supply list can be bought was inspired by Cecil Court, which happens to be a haven for book lovers with its rare and antique book shops. The shop fronts remain as they did more than a century ago with their traditional hanging signs inviting shoppers to browse maps, children's books, stamps and theatre posters. Nearest tube: Leicester Square.

London's only remaining sewage lamp is currently in use and can be found burning day and night down the side street of the Savoy Hotel. Several thousand of the lamps were installed in the late 1800s to burn methane waste from the sewer system but they became unpopular due to the bad smells and occasional explosions they caused. Locals renamed Carting Lane, where the last Victorian lamp stands, 'Farting Lane'! Get there: Nearest tubes are Embankment or Temple.


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London's garden bridge granted planning permission

After years of craning our necks up, the View from the Shard is finally open for a spot of looking down on London. It’s sleek, stylish and does boast pretty incredible views. But for a fraction of the price (£3), you can stretch your legs and take in the town from the top of The Monument. Steeped in history, the building is bursting with character to be explored. Plus you get a rather charming certificate to prove you mastered the 311 steps. A short stroll away is the Heron Tower, where you can get a beer and a bar stool with just as good a view. Sorry Shardy.

It might miss the mark on exotic animals roaming around, but London’s city farms are free and fabulous. Head to Mudchute Farm in the east (riding the front seat of the DLR as you do), and spend a morning with sheep, donkeys, pigs and llamas, all with the backdrop of Canary Wharf overseeing proceedings. The café serves excellent hot and cold food, best washed down with a glass of homemade lemonade. Other farm locations in the capital include Vauxhall, Hackney and Kentish Town.

Every fancy hotel in London promises the best afternoon tea - seriously expensive scones and prim placemats guaranteed. For much more character (and just as good cake), head to the Secret Tea Room in Soho - above the Coach and Horses at 29 Greek Street (W1D 5DH). You take your seat via the washing up sink, and absolutely nothing matches. Which is all part of the charm. Afternoon tea from £17 per person, booking recommended.

The aromas of ostrich burgers and piles of cheese samples attract over four million visitors a year to Borough Market. A treat for the all the senses, yes, but this market does get jolly busy. Take a trip out of town to Greenwich and visit the roof-covered river side market for atmosphere, crafts, clothes and mouth-watering food to go. Watch the afternoon go by from the top of the hill.

A walk through Leicester Square or down Shaftsbury Avenue shows that chip shops in London are two a penny. But there’s nothing special about those ghastly Angus restaurants on every corner. Forget airs and graces and take a seat at the outdoor seating of Rock and Sole Plaice. Not only does the oldest London chippie get five stars for its epic punnery, but the fat chips, crispy batter and hearty mugs of tea make it a winning pit stop.

If you don’t fancy a dip in a lido or cold pond when the Great British Summer is in full swing (i.e, still a wee bit chilly), head to Oasis Sports Centre for a swim in the (heated!) outdoor pool. It’s blocked in by office and housing blocks, and the odd palm tree perched pool side gives it more than enough character. All for under £5 a swim.

Queuing around the block and a £15 entry fee? We do love a fish but a family day out with our scaly friends could easily top £100 if you head to London Aquarium. Never fear, there’s a little known gem in Dulwich called The Horniman Museum, with a £3 a pop aquarium, complete with star fish, sea horses and everyone’s favourite; the jellyfish.

Get your fix of the famous Abbey from the outside, then nip down the road to its less-famous cousin, Westminster Cathedral. Entry is free, and for £5 you can get the lift to the top of the tower for a view of the capital. Let us know if you also get the slightly dodgy tale from the guide about Will proposing to Kate at the top of the Tower…

The large yellow London duck which breezes along the Thames is a familiar sight in London and it's hugely popular with tourists. But you can get (almost) as close to the water - and thankfully stay a lot drier - with a ride on the Thames Clipper boat, all for the cost of a tube ride. Hop on board at Embankment and go all the way to Greenwich to get a real feel for the shape of the city. The snake of the river will surprise even the most hardened Londoner.

You might not get the recorded guide, but you certainly see the ‘real’ London with a ride aboard a public bus route, which naturally is cheaper than a tour bus. Buy a map and aim for the front seat of the double decker on route 211, Hammersmith to Waterloo. You will see everything from the Royal Albert Hall to the London Eye, without spending a small fortune. Choose a weekday after rush hour, around 10am for the best chance of the top seat. Bus 9 leaving from Piccadilly Circus (towards Kensington) is another fabulous route for the sights. 

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