Residents voice fresh concerns over new Finchingfield bridge plans

Finchingfield. Picture: SaffronPhoto

Finchingfield. Picture: SaffronPhoto - Credit: Archant

Finchingfield residents voiced their concerns to council representatives over the proposed option of a second bridge in the picturesque Essex village at a meeting on Tuesday night (April 5).

Finchingfield. Picture: SaffronPhoto

Finchingfield. Picture: SaffronPhoto - Credit: Archant

Around 100 villagers attended the annual Finchingfield Parish Assembly, with the focus firmly on discussing plans for another permanent crossing to be built alongside the current bridge.

The council’s new preferred option would see a second, wider bridge being constructed for traffic, including articulated vehicles, with the current bridge being used for pedestrian and bicycle access.

But villagers want improvements to the current bridge along with a temporary crossing erected while the work is being carried out, and one parish councillor has even offered a substantial donation to meet costs.

Four representatives from the highways department at Essex County Council were asked to clarify their proposed plan at the meeting, which would result in more than a fifth of the village pond being lost.

Finchingfield. Picture: SaffronPhoto

Finchingfield. Picture: SaffronPhoto - Credit: Archant

Residents say a second crossing would be detrimental to the vista of the village, which was recently named by The Sunday Times as one of the best places to live in the east of England, and would ultimately deter visitors, reducing much needed tourist income.

During the meeting at the village hall, residents asked why the council’s preferred option for a second bridge needed to be so wide, and highways representatives responded by saying they were governed, in the first instance, by planning guidance.

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Villagers were also keen to learn how much of the village pond would be taken by the council’s second bridge plan, and were told by highways that approximately 21 per cent would be lost.

After being questioned by villagers on costings, the council’s highways representatives told the meeting that their preferred option would cost around £650,000, while work to improve the current bridge with a temporary crossing would be about £850,000.

Finchingfield Parish Council chairman Graham Tobell said he had offered a donation of £100,000 toward meeting some of the difference between the two proposed projects.

Mike Thompson, of the highways department, said the council’s proposed project would require planning permission and that the authority was hopeful of a September start date, although recognised that it may be next year before work gets underway.

Results of a survey conducted after the exhibition in February, together with revised plans, are to be published on the Finchingfield Bridge page under the highways major scheme section on Essex County Council’s website in the near future.