Monday, 21 September 2020

Villagers back idea of new footbridge

MOST residents have welcomed the revival of plans for a new bridge between Wargrave and Shiplake.

Olivia Coppin, of High Street, Wargrave, has formed a campaign group in the hope of resurrecting the previously unsuccessful project.

In 1997, South Oxfordshire District Council approved an application by Wokingham Borough Council for a foot and cycle bridge across the River Thames.

However, residents of Shiplake mounted a campaign against the idea and it was never realised due to a lack of funding.

Ms Coppin carried out an online survey which received 948 responses.

Of those, 95 per cent were in favour of the idea with only 40 people objecting.

Ms Coppin said she would be meeting with both Wokingham Borough Council and South Oxfordshire District Council.

“This is very encouraging and we will use this data to talk to the local authorities to determine if there is any budget from new schemes to encourage access to the countryside and the safe cycling scheme,” she said.

“There are also detailed feasibility studies taking place to identify the most suitable crossing from a design and access point of view. These studies are not limited to any site — there are still several possible start and finish points.

“The survey also highlighted that people would like to have a ferry in the meantime. Sadly, that’s not possible this summer with social distancing but we will continue to investigate how to make this viable with a view to starting next spring, pandemic permitting.

“We now have a core team of individuals with specific skills working on this initiative, including a bridge engineering consultant, planning consultants, project managers and fund-raisers. 

“We would welcome such individuals from Shiplake, too, as we feel underrepresented from that side of the river currently.

“Once we have the results of the feasibility studies and some feedback from the local authorities, we aim to hold a public meeting to share the findings.”

In the original plans, the suggested site was the railway bridge, which originally had two tracks. The Henley branch line from Twyford is now single-track, but the cylinders that supported it are still standing.

The idea was to seek funding from the Millennium Commission for a tourist attraction.

However,  Shiplake residents were concerned that the bridge would lead to overcrowding on the riverbank.

For more information or to get involved, email
wsbcc2020@gmail.com

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