Bridge over Reach Lode
A special meeting of the Parish Council to discuss the National Trust's Reach Lode Bridge Planning Application
A special meeting of the Parish Council was called to discuss and express an opinion on a planning application by the National Trust for a bridge over Reach Lode. The application had apparently appeared in a bit of a rush, and there is a very close deadline for registering opinion with ECDC. Detailed plans of the proposed structure were on view, but no-one was available from the applicants to answer questions or promote their case.
The purpose of the bridge is (apparently) to provide a more direct route for walkers and cyclists (and therefore by legal requirement equestrians) between Anglesey Abbey and Wicken Fen. Much of the funding for it is coming from Sustrans (Sustainable Transport - an agency responsible for the distribution of government money to appropriate causes - in this case particularly the promotion of cycling).
The practicality of the design is a shallow steel arch rising some 20ft above the lode banks, met on each side by embankments which extend over a total width of nearly a quarter of a mile, providing a smooth arc over which one could drive at 40mph with no problem. And so they might, for the bridge is 3 metres wide (that's around the width of the room I'm sitting in as I write this), and the application mentions that it would be used for 'occasional farm traffic'. Apparently another application is on the way for something similar across Burwell Lode - which could not be opposed if the present one is approved, on the principle of precedence; this titbit of information raised concerns about the whole bigger plan associated with the Fen Vision project.
The PC didn't like it at all. The consensus was that the need was not proven (er.. just how many people want to walk or ride from Anglesey Abbey to Wicken Fen?), and even if it were, the proposed design was ridiculously out of scale with what would serve the anticipated use, and be a major feature of the landscape for miles around.
It was also pointed out that the geological survey accompanying the application quoted data from 30-year-old reports, and went on to express concern that the necessary piling works (and the machine that did it) might damage irreparably the banks of the lode. Those present with any engineering opinions expressed doubts about the structural validity of the design, and laughed out of court the quoted budget of £300,000, and everyone disliked the materials and finish (galvanised steel).
In short, it appears to be a nonsense, and that is what the PC will tell the Council following a unanimous vote.