Save Our Bridge!
Save Our Bridge!
This is a reminder to those of you who have not already written to object to the proposal to demolish Boxted bridge to do so now! The formal planning application for Boxted bridge has begun and the consultation period ends on 28th January. All planning application documents are available to view on this link where you can comment on the application CC/COL/106/21 https://planning.essex.gov.uk/disclaimer.aspx?returnURL=%2fplanningapplication.aspx%3fAppNo%3dCC%2fCOL%2f106%2f21
Please make sure you to also send a copy of your comment to Babergh DC planning link (please note you will be requested to Register first before you are able to comment) : https://planning.baberghmidsuffolk.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=makeComment&keyVal=R58X4QSH09Q00 Ref Boxted bridge DC/22/00050
Alternatively you can simply email: firstname.lastname@example.org giving your full name, and postal address and Boxted Bridge Ref DC/22/00050.
Babergh DC will publish your comments online publicly but Essex CC protocol does not reciprocate!
The following is only a suggested list of reasons for objection. You should write to object to the planning application in your own words expressing your own views.
DEDHAM VALE AONB. Have Highways and the Local Authority paid due legal regard to enhancing and preserving the character of the AONB in this proposal?
SAFETY. Do you think by widening and flattening the bridge vehicles will travel faster or slower over the bridge and turning into Sky Hall Hill?
BRIDGE LISTED ON COLCHESTER BC LOCAL PLAN/HERITAGE ASSESSMENT RECOMMENDS REPAIR/REFURBISHMENT The recommendations from both these reports have been ignored. Are you happy about this?
'FIRE ENGINES AND REFUSE LORRIES CANNOT SAFELY MANEUVER THE BRIDGE’ Do you believe Highways desk studies or your own eyes? A mere belief that the width and layout of Boxted Bridge is not optimum to permit passage by modern emergency vehicles is not such a justification to demolish a heritage asset.
COST Are you happy about the lack of details on the cost of repairing the bridge? Boxted Parish Council’s request for a Value for Money Report on the new bridge has been ignored. Highways have already spent best part of £200,000 on feasibility studies. It is cheaper to repair the bridge than replace by Highways own figures (Options Study 2018). It appears only simple cost benefit considerations have been used to rule out repair or refurbishment of a heritage asset in an AONB.
CARBON FOOTPRINT Are you happy about the demolition and replacement option v the repair/refurbishment option in todays' climate crisis just after COP26 and abysmal climate predictions?
JUSTIFICATION. Is it necessary in an area of rural single lane roads with passing places to build a bridge for HGVs? The bridge is surrounded by 4 substandard bridges not included in the upgrade. There are ’Not suitable for HGV’ signs up on approach roads why encourage them?
Are you happy that the LANDSCAPE VISUAL APPRAISAL DOCUMENT says there will only be ‘minor change to the landscape’ when in fact the proposed increased height (1.5M) of the parapet on the replacement bridge will mean people will be unable to enjoy the views from the bridge as currently and the bridge will have an increased footprint area of 51%?
Boxted Bridge, built in 1897 by George Double (1840-1916), piers and bridges contractor, lies in the centre of the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The surrounding fields are water meadows, where cattle and sheep graze and cricket bat plantations thrive. The bridge is an important heritage feature of the village and well loved; it is known locally as 'The Green Bridge'. In the 1930s the views from Boxted bridge inspired many paintings by both Sir Alfred Munnings and John Nash.
By 1992 Boxted bridge was showing signs of neglect. The bridge was assessed by Essex County Council that year and the report found the deck to have a live load capacity of 3 Tonnes: but no weight restriction was thought necessary; and indeed for the next 28 years traffic continued to drive over it, including latterly some massive HGVs with trailers. An Options Study was done in 2018 but recommendations to carry out further feasibility studies on three of the options using the current footprint of the bridge were not acted upon. However in March 2020 Highways' decided to proceed with Option 7B, an unrecommended opton, at an unminuted meeting. Essex Highways has completed their investigation work on the bridge and is now planning to replace the bridge altogether and build a 40 tonne bridge on a wider footprint capable of HGVs making the turn over the bridge onto Sky Hall Hill more easily, an option that their own Options Study said in a list of disadvantages would: 'urbanize a section of the AONB', that 'carriageway widening/improvements on Wick Road' might have to be carried out, that did not take into account of our 'sub standard structures', (smaller bridges over streams near the bridge). This option costs the most, £900,000-1000,000, and would have the most carbon footprint. Highways' intend to submit a planning application for this proposal on 26 November 2021.
We believe the bridge can be repaired and saved for the community and should not be replaced with a wider uglier version which would mean that more HGVs use this route through an Area of Outstanding natural Beauty. At present vehicles the same size as a fire engine, and larger, can already, with care, negotiate the turn over the bridge into Sky Hall Hill. The three approach roads to the bridge are not suitable for HGVs being single lane with passing places. The two new 'Not Suitable for HGV' signs at Whalebone corner and Wick road/ B1068 have been remarkably successful in discouraging further HGVs. We believe an 'Environmental Limits' sign would deter large HGVs but still allow the essential farm traffic vehicles access over the bridge. The proposed scheme for a new larger bridge is overkill.
You can read more in the Updates about the achievements of George Double, builder of Boxted Bridge, who worked for the eminent engineer John Dixon (1835-1891), building Llandudno Pier (1877), raising Cleopatra's Needle on the Embankment (1878), manager during the construction of Hammersmith Suspension Bridge (1887), building the new pier head and landing stage on Clevedon Pier (1892), and much more!