A row has erupted between Essex County Council and a campaign group hoping to save Boxted Bridge from demolition, and which is set to be replaced in a £1million project.

The bridge has been deemed by Essex Highways to be "at the end of its natural lifespan", and needs to be demolished in order to build a new one "to improve safety for road users and nearby private properties".

However, the Save our Bridge campaigners believes that there is no need for this new development and have launched a fierce defence to try and stop the new build, including a petition which has attracted nearly 6,000 signatures.

Lucinda de Jasay, from the group, said: "There is strong local support from people who know and love the bridge and do not want to lose a part of their heritage.

"They want it to be repaired not replaced, they are angry because they cannot understand why a wider bridge is necessary in a rural area surrounded by single track roads with passing places."

Save our Bridge also feel that they are being ignored by Essex Highways.

She added: "In our experience any opinion that is not agreed with by Essex Highways' own has not been discussed in an open and transparent way, the consultation process has been a charade.

"All email responses from Boxted Bridge enquires to the public arrive unsigned: it is like talking to a brick wall."

East Anglian Daily Times: Essex Highways' visual representation of what the new Boxted Bridge would look likeEssex Highways' visual representation of what the new Boxted Bridge would look like (Image: Essex County Council)

Essex Highways said: "Our proposed design is expected to improve road safety at this location, provide suitable road widths for emergency vehicle access and reduce the risk of vehicle strikes which have occurred at the current bridge and to nearby private property in the past."

Councillor Lee Scott, Essex County Council cabinet member for highways maintenance and sustainable transport, added: “We appreciate the strength of feeling around this scheme in Boxted and we are committed to working with all stakeholders, including Boxted Parish Council, to create a safe and long-lasting solution for the bridge which will benefit residents of the village."

Planning applications for the new bridge are due to be submitted today, November 26.