By Tara O’Connor
Despite serious concerns about its design, a new Bishopsford Road bridge has been give the green light by Merton Council.
It has been more than a year since the bridge over the River Wandle collapsed following work to try and strengthen it.
At a planning meeting on October 22 the new £2.7 million bridge was approved.
But Tony Burton, chairman of Mitcham Cricket Green Community and Heritage, told the meeting: “Plans entirely fail to meet cycling standards that cyclists must be treated as vehicles and not pedestrians. The new bridge will be out of date before it is built.”
And local tree warden, Jane Plant, was concerned that the plans will see the removal of 23 trees and a small cluster of young trees as well as the previous brick bridge being replaced by railings.
But Merton Council has said that after the bridge is built, 26 new trees would be planted.
Ms Plant said: “The character of the river through Ravensbury Park and beyond is special, a different world away from traffic and noise which should be appreciated and protected as an asset of the borough.
“This application would adversely impact on the peaceful character of this well-used area. The brick wall and strip of woodland to be removed separates the park and road and protects the park from views of traffic noise and pollution.”
But Russ Blaber, speaking as the agent for the application from Merton Council, said the council has ‘worked very hard’ on the design of the bridge.
He said: “Partial collapse of the bridge in June last year has presented a number of considerable challenges for the council. The loss of a critical piece of infrastructure has affected people’s lives, particularly those travelling to key sites including St Helier Hospital.
“The council’s application team has been able to design a bridge which maximises what is possible within the constraints, the new bridge is modern and has additional cycle capacity and is approved by the Environment Agency.”
He added that following consultation this summer the bridge design was changed to include a segregated cycle lane northbound and a shared lane with pedestrians southbound and said this complies with cycle lane guidelines.
Unlike than the previous three arch bridge, the new bridge will be ‘single span’
Work on the vital crossing is now expected to start next month and be completed sometime in 2021.
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