Bristol Downs stone bridge plans rejected by inspector

Classical stone bridge image for Downs Image copyright Patrick Thornhill
Image caption The stone footbridge across Bridge Valley Road would have been 50m (164ft) long with a dedicated cycle path

A plan for a new stone bridge across the Downs in Bristol has been rejected by a planning inspector despite being approved by the city council.

The bridge for walkers and cyclists, over Bridge Valley Road was approved in 2016 subject to planning conditions.

The inspector turned down the bridge application saying it was not justified on "common" land.

Robert Lake, chairman of the Friends of the Downs and Avon Gorge, said the new decision was "deplorable".

Bristol City Council approved the bridge plans subject to trees being planted but later refused them when that "could not be assured".

'Adequate crossing'

An appeal to the planning inspectorate overturned the council's decision with the inspector saying it was "not necessary to replace lost trees".

An initial inspection assessed the environmental impact to be "negligible" said Mr Lake.

But Inspector Helen Slade said the benefits of the proposed bridge for the public were "minimal and not outweighed by the permanent adverse impact that it would have on the open landscape of the common".

"There would be a lasting impact on the landscape of a type which is not consistent with government policy," said Ms Slade.

In her overall assessment of the plans she noted "an adequate crossing point is available a short distance away".

"This appears to be a premature application for a major engineering answer to a problem which may not necessarily require such an intrusive solution."

Mr Lake said: "This is a deplorable decision which totally ignores the danger faced by tens of thousands of people every month as they cross this busy road."

Dr Adrienn Tomor, the engineer behind the application said she was glad this inspector was not around 200 years ago "otherwise we wouldn't have the suspension bridge".

Image copyright Dr Adrienn Tomor
Image caption Dr Adrienn Tomor said it would have been "the first stone arch bridge to be built for the past 100 years in the UK and Europe"

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