Thursday, 13 August 2020

Plan for cycle and footbridge resurrected after 23 years

PLANS to introduce a bridge connecting Wargrave and Shiplake have been revived.

Olivia Coppin has formed the Wargrave-Shiplake Bridge Campaign Group and is hoping to get feedback from residents.

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

Residents of Shiplake mounted a campaign against the idea and it was never realised due to a lack of funding and the consent expired after five years.

Miss Coppin, who lives in High Street, Wargrave, is keen to have support from residents of both villages.

She said: “We really want this to be a community project. We want to have people from Wargrave and Shiplake on board and we have already had some support from Shiplake, which is good.

“There are lots of people around here who think it is a shame there is no footbridge. It is lovely living next to the countryside but we don’t have any access to the riverside.

“We live on the River Thames but a lot of it is private land and we don’t have access to the other side without taking the train, which is not ideal.

“We looked online and saw that there was this old application that was approved but then there were delays and it didn’t have enough funding.

“If it was approved once, maybe we could find a better way to do it.”

The campaign group, which currently has about 10 people, is hoping public opinion will help form the basis for a future application and it is also trying to get the support of the respective parish councils.

Miss Coppin, who works at Ella’s Kitchen, near Greys Green, is hopeful that there will be public funding available as the Government has pledged to invest £250 million to make improvements to cycling and walking infrastructure.

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.

The Shiplake campaigners were concerned that the bridge would lead to overcrowding on the riverbank.

Miss Coppin said: “At the moment, there are many options. We could revive the previous plans or look at something new.

“We have mini groups working on different parts of this project. There will be lots of different issues to think about.

“We really want to have as much support as possible from the community. Since the start of the coronavirus lockdown, people have been cycling much more and everyone is thinking more about climate change.

“We will probably have to raise some money in the community as well but it all depends on what kind of bridge we go for.

“Some of the people who were opposing this in the past are gone now. This is supposed to be positive and we want to engage with the community as much as possible. We don’t want people to feel like we haven’t listened to them.”

Graham Howe, a member of Wargrave Parish Council and Wokingham Borough Council, said he would support the idea.

He said: “Wargrave needs to engage with the people on the other side of the river so that we have a mutually beneficial proposal.

“The problem in the past was that there were certain residents in Shiplake, who are no longer living there, that objected to it.”

Councillor Fred Maroudas, chairman of Shiplake Parish Council, said: “We are looking forward to discussing these proposals with our neighbours in Wargrave.

“In Shiplake, we are strongly committed to improving both pedestrian and cycling routes between Shiplake and their

He said the council would be discussing the issue at is meeting this week.

The campaign group is keen to hear from anyone who has expertise in submitting planning applications, design and engineering or fundraising and is willing to help.

If you would like to give your opinion on the plans, email

• What do you think? Write to: Letters, Henley Standard, Caxton House, 1 Station Road, Henley or email letters

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