London’s Thames Garden Bridge Public procurement

  • Walter Menteth (Participant)

Impact: Cultural & Creative Impacts, Economic & Commercial Impacts, Public Policy Impacts, Public Discourse Impacts, Societal Impacts

Description of impact

Public policy, transparency, governance, practices and procedures, particularly across the Transport for London (TfL) group and in the roles, remit and practices of UK mayors, along with significant savings in national and regional public expenditure commitments have been impacted by this research. It has also contributed in construction procurement to enhancing public and professional knowledge nationally and internationally sustaining and enabling national reforms, and ensuing political debate about the probity, ethics, accountability and modus operandi of national and international actors in representative roles. In this broad context the research and arising scrutiny continue to have impacts, with further outcomes anticipated.·  

Who is affected

Improved procurement practices by Public Authorities specifically within the Transport for London (TfL) group and the GLA, and informing UK practices, benefiting the public, public authorities and bidders in future. • Financial losses and liabilities to UK tax payers and London ratepayers (on a Central Gov. £30m grant & TfL £30m precept subsequently converted into a loan) the likely future costs which would have been required to complete the project along with a c. £3m p.a maintenance liability. Subject to progress of legal processes, some of the sums expdended to date may be reimbursed. • Notwithstanding any sunk cost fallacy, if not terminated the projects potential public liability forward could have exceeded £100m which represents a further saving for the public. • The UK public, international visitors and architectural culture are benefited by retention of the existing amenity in Central London. By improving public policy transparency, governance, practices and procedures, significant savings in national and regional public future expenditure has been benefitted by this research that has also contributed in construction procurement to enhancing public and professional knowledge nationally and internationally


The hypotheses of this research is underpinned by the commercial experience in construction of Walter Menteth Architects as a practice operating under the UK Public Contracts Regulation’s legal framework and standards including practical experience submitting multiple public contract bids. This has been augmented by the researcher’s recognised expertise in procurement law, regulations, their governance, processes and practices, his standing as a representative of the profession, public roles, positions as a trust chair and director of various organisations. In this research the procurement, project planning and methodologies have been engaged across national, regional, local authorities and private operators, and the political context.
Justifiable public concerns about this high-profile project procurement and its value have been raised. £30m national and £30m regional public finance was agreed to be contributed, in the end on uniquely long low interest terms, upon construction commencement, with an underwritten liability circa £3m per annum on maintenance in perpetuity - ostensibly on a privately financed project! With nothing built its estimated cost on termination was circa £220m yet the project promoters had received proportionately little private finance while during its progression promised bequests declined, and the promoter’s expectation of and actual public purse pre-construction expenditure increased, to £43m! The research found the public commissioning had been partial, unfair and uncompetitive, and that processes, practices and procedures had fallen short of international, national and authority regulations, standards and governance practices, and that best value had not been delivered.

Through this paradigmatic research into a nationally significant project the aim has been to raise public understanding, drive practical improvements and professionalism, and advance the standards, value, quality, probity, efficiency and effectiveness of UK public procurement policy and practice, so that more economic, environmental and social sustainability objectives are deliverable, accountable and transparent. The research informed the projects progression and eventual termination, along with new protocols, governance and practices across the TfL group, the GLA and more widely. Parliamentarians’ views on, for example, practice and governance remits and protocols, particularly those surrounding UK mayorial roles, future infrastructure delivery through charitable trust vehicles and calls made for a parliamentary public inquiry on the project’s accountability continue to be informed.

The project was finally terminated by the Mayor of London in August 2017, yet the project expenditure, its accountability and the underlying structural policy framework and governance, remain the subject of ongoing research engagement and inquiries.
Impact statusClosed
Impact date3 Dec 2014
Category of impactCultural & Creative Impacts, Economic & Commercial Impacts, Public Policy Impacts, Public Discourse Impacts, Societal Impacts
Impact levelBenefit (delivered impact)


  • architecture
  • procurement
  • competitions
  • public policy
  • construction
  • public engagement
  • garden bridge
  • governance