Finchingfield wins battle to keep bridge open during works

PUBLISHED: 07:00 18 February 2016 | UPDATED: 17:37 18 February 2016

Artist's impression of new Finchingfield bridge

Artist's impression of new Finchingfield bridge

Archant

They are calling themselves “the village that roared”.

After a six-month battle, people in Finchingfield have fought off the closure and the proposed widening of their current picturesque bridge.

Now in an effort to resolve the situation, Essex County Council has a new recommended option to build a second bridge for traffic next to the existing crossing – which would be turned into a pedestrian-only bridge.

The new bridge will be of a sympathetic design, with the same style weathered bricks and buttressing as the current bridge, with the aim of keeping the view of the iconic bridge identical to how it is now.

The two bridges will be completely separate with a “moon pool” between them, with the aim of looking like one bridge from a side-on view.

This new bridge will be single track, though wider to meet modern regulations, with a small kerb designed to protect the structure from being hit by vehicles and on a slightly different line to keep it away from adjacent buildings – hopefully also removing the risk of vehicles colliding with those.

While the new bridge is being built, the old bridge will be retained to allow traffic access and prevent the village from being split in half.

HGVs will be banned from the old bridge while the work is taking place, but this restriction does not apply to emergency service vehicles.

Postmistress Alex Robinson told the Broadcast: “We are happy that the bridge will remain open, that was our primary objective. It means we can carry on with our lives.

“We don’t want heavy lorries coming through the village anyway, why haven’t they always gone round it. They are not delivering here.

“We are cautiously optimistic. We suggested this option to the county council when we started this campaign. People in the village who remember the war say the bridge has never been closed, even when the Americans extended it to take their tanks. At first no one was listening to us but we are the village that roared.”

The revised plans were displayed at an exhibition in the village hall yesterday (Wednesday) – exactly three months after a protest meeting at the St John the Baptist Church where County Councillor Eddie Johnson responsible for highways was harangued for an hour and a half on a dark, winter night of gales and falling trees on November 17.

Councillor Johnson said: “We continue to listen to the public, as the plans for this much-needed work develop.

“We believe we have now successfully created a plan which addresses the key concerns raised by the local community, whilst still enabling the needs of the wider travelling public to be met.”

What do you think of the plans? Send your views to editor@dunmow-broadcast.co.uk

A second bridge could now be built in an Essex village in a bid to solve an ongoing row about an existing crossing.

Villagers in Finchingfield have been campaigning against the proposed widening of the current picturesque bridge, and have raised concerns over plans to close it for four months while works take place.

Now in an effort to resolve the situation, Essex County Council has a new recommended option to build a second bridge for traffic next to the existing crossing – which would be turned into a pedestrian-only bridge.

The new bridge will be of a sympathetic design, with the same style weathered bricks and buttressing as the current bridge, with the aim of keeping the view of the iconic bridge identical to how it is now.

The two bridges will be completely separate with a “moon pool” between them, with the aim of looking like one bridge from a side-on view.

This new bridge will be single track, though wider to meet modern regulations, with a small kerb designed to protect the structure from being hit by vehicles and on a slightly different line to keep it away from adjacent buildings – hopefully also removing the risk of vehicles colliding with those.

While the new bridge is being built, the old bridge will be retained to allow traffic access and prevent the village from being split in half.

HGVs will be banned from the old bridge while the work is taking place, but this restriction does not apply to emergency service vehicles.

Eddie Johnson, county councillor for highways and transport delivery, said: “We continue to listen to the public, as the plans for this much-needed work develop.

“We believe we have now successfully created a plan which addresses the key concerns raised by the local community, whilst still enabling the needs of the wider travelling public to be met.”

County Hall said doing nothing was not an option, otherwise the existing bridge would crumble, while a temporary bridge was too expensive and not feasible. It also ruled out repairs on the existing bridge while it remained open as it was simply not in a good enough state of repair to allow such works.

The works are now unlikely to take place in July, as the new options need some more detailed work doing, and the authority said it was “reassessing” the start date of the scheme – which should mean it does not clash with harvest time.

Village postmistress Alex Robinson said: “We are happy the bridge will remain open, that was our primary objective. It means we can carry on with our lives.

“We don’t want heavy lorries coming through the village anyway, why haven’t they always gone round it. They are not delivering here.

“We are cautiously optimistic. We suggested this option to the county council when we started this campaign.

“People in the village who remember the war say the bridge has never been closed, even when the Americans extended it to take their tanks. At first no one was listening to us but we are the village that roared.”

The revised plans were displayed at an exhibition in the village hall yesterday exactly three months after a fiery protest meeting where Cllr Johnson promised to revisit the original plans.

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