Foreign backers say they could build in Singapore if planning permission is denied
The fund management company behind the London River Park has rebutted claims that it may not be able to meet the £60m cost of the project.
The river park, which has the backing of London mayor Boris Johnson, would create a floating walkway featuring eight themed pavilions, to run on the north bank of the Thames between the Millennium Bridge and the Tower of London.
Critics claim the development’s foreign backers, the Singapore-based Venus Group, may not be able to finance it fully.
Doubts about the project were raised in the mayor’s biography “Just Boris” by Sonia Purnell, who wrote that one City Hall official had said: “It is not the sort of agreement that the mayor of London should be entering, but Boris would not be dissuaded.”
Len Duvall, a Labour member of the London Assembly, said he fears the “public having to step in yet again to bail out one of the mayor’s vanity schemes”.
The development will open in time for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in June 2012 if planning consent is granted on 15 November.
The Venus Group’s chairman Sri Ganesh Nadarajah told the London Evening Standard the development would definitely go ahead – if necessary in Singapore.
He said: “We are proceeding with the funding of this park. We have spent close to £6m. I don’t think anybody would spend 10% if they wanted to walk away.
“This is a private development, privately funded and the public’s interest is protected. There is no risk to the public. It will be a big blow to London if the planning is not consented.”
Mr Nadarajah added that if the City of London Corporation denies planning permission his investment group may simply “do it in Singapore”.
A spokesman for Johnson said: “The mayor is satisfied that the sponsor has assembled a credible team to progress the planning application and potentially deliver a significant benefit to the capital at no cost whatsoever to the taxpayer.”
Construction giant Mace and architect Gensler have both worked on the river park’s design. The project has attracted more than 150 objections from businesses and residents.