The Parish Council are currently considering the merits of an application for planning permission for a foot and cycle path bridge over the river, as part of a new permissive pathway which would link Moot Lane to the market cross, crossing the water meadows and opening up an alternative route (avoiding the main road) for pedestrians and cyclists. The bridge project work has been undertaken by the Parish Council's Amenities Committee and the Council is now waiting for topographical and ecological studies as well as design drawings before making a decision.
The preferred route for the new path is from Avon Meadow car park by the pumping station along the footpath accessing the river and crossing at that point. On the west side, the bridge would come out on the field currently farmed with bull cattle. The path would turn immediately left and then cross the field, emerging onto the current footpath to the rear of South Lane. This route also links to the existing public footpath along the eastern river bank from Downton Moot gardens to the Millennium Green.
Map of the proposed route
The bridge design has not yet been decided - a design survey has taken place and two different designs are under consideration. One is preferred but this may be changed if planning permission demands it. The proposed bridge will be 1.15m high, with the deck being 1.0 m above flood river level.
An ecological survey is being carried out and will make recommendations as to what might need to be done to support the riverbank and counter erosion. Because cattle are grazed in the meadow at some times of the year, fencing would be put in place either side of the path, with a low flexible barrier to allow flood water to flow through if necessary. As with any footpath, people will use the footpath at their own risk, including the existing river-side footpaths.
In 2016, the parish council consulted all residents on the East side of the river and residents in South Lane on the West side - but further consultation will be required if planning permission is granted. The County Council's planning department will take responsibility for notifying residents who will be most affected about the detailed plans. The Radnor Estate gave their permission for a 'permissive path' (on a minimal lease) in April 2017.
A model of the proposed bridge
It is proposed that access for construction traffic will be via the east side along the Avon Meadow footpath which has a width of at least 3m. Until more details are confirmed, the exact period of construction cannot be determined, although it is expected to be days rather than weeks. Further work would be required to create the paths on either side.
The Parish Council's Amenities Committee believe that this new pathway has the potential to make a great deal of difference to school children from the east of the village, reducing traffic along the High St and Borough and reducing the need for parking. Early consultation showed a high level of public support for using the proposed route, as it would significantly reduce the length of the journey to and from different parts of the village. Consultation with the primary school also showed strong support.
A model of the proposed bridge will be available at the Green Fair on the 27 September in the Memorial Gardens.