Remember those plans to build a 'garden bridge' across the Thames? Turns out that there may be more to the idea than an 'oo, wouldn't that be nice?'. A public consultation begins today, and the gorgeous new image heading our gallery above has just been released.
The 360-metre-long pedestrian bridge, originally suggested by Joanna Lumley, is designed by Thomas Heatherwick, a man who has already contributed much to the capital with projects such as the New Bus For London and the Olympic Cauldron. It would be built between Waterloo and Blackfriars Bridges, linking the Temple area to the Southbank, where the ITV tower stands.
The consultation is organised by the newly appointed The Garden Bridge Trust, and supported by Transport for London. Public feedback on matters such as the landscaping and materials used will be fed into the planning application in the first few months of 2014.
If the planning process runs smoothly, the Trust hopes to open the bridge in 2018. About half the £150 million price tag has already been offered by private donors and the Mayor and relevant local authorities are supportive. The Evening Standard has more detail on the background and its chances of being built. Its report is extremely positive, but then the newspaper's owner Evgeny Lebedev is 'governor' of the project.
Quite a few answers are missing from the narrative at this stage, however. How will the remainder of the bridge be funded? Is it seen as a genuinely useful bit of infrastructure, or as another bauble to attract tourists, or both? Who's on the board of the Garden Bridge Trust, and who appointed them? Will there be any cycling provision, or is it (as the images suggest) pedestrian only, and can the consultation influence this?
But questions aside, if the project can be entirely financed from private funds, and avoid becoming a branded sponsor billboard, then it's hard not to be enchanted at the prospect of a glorious garden over the Thames.
You can provide comments on the proposal through The Garden Bridge Trust website until 20 December.