6,400 people sign bridge petition to save Boxted Bridge

Save our Bridge campaigners on Boxted Bridge

Thousands of people have signed a petition to save the historic bridge - Credit: Lucinda de Jasay

A petition to save a historic bridge has garnered more than 6,400 signatures as consultation opens on controversial plans to replace it. 

Essex County Council has received backlash from campaign group Save our Bridge to replace Boxted Bridge in a £1m project. 

Planning documents prepared by Place Services, on behalf of Essex County Council said: "The proposed replacement of Boxted Bridge and associated highway improvements is a necessary development for the purposes of safety."

The campaign group believes there is no need to fully replace the historic bridge, which inspired paintings by Sir Alfred Munnings and John Nash and has stood for nearly 120 years.

The bridge provides a crossing over the River Stour across the Suffolk/Essex border.

A 'Save our Bridge' spokesperson said that the project is an "ill-conceived opportunistic plan" and that the support of the campaign has been "phenomenal". 

Harwich and North Essex MP, Sir Bernard Jenkin and historian Dan Cruickshank are amongst those to register their backing of the group.

Boxted bridge in the snow

The bridge has been standing for nearly 120 years. - Credit: Lucinda de Jasay

The group believes that there are alternative options to a replacement of the bridge.

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The spokesman said: "By refurbishing the bridge this avoids waste, costs less, preserves as much as possible of the heritage asset, incurs less carbon footprint, and avoids urbanizing the setting."

The idea of refurbishment work is dismissed in the 'Boxted Bridge Assessment Report 2021', which forms part of the planning statement.

The report says: "Refurbishment would, as a maximum, retain the existing main girders but these would still require removal and refurbishment at works, whilst they are fitted to a new deck.

"This would cause a much longer period without a bridge in place (or with an expensive temporary bridge in place), whilst refurbishment takes place. This may not be acceptable to the local community."

The Save our Bridge group believes the proposal may not be as sympathetic to the area as claimed.

A spokesman said: "The height of the new parapet means that the majority of people of average height will be unable to look down and over at the justly-famous views. The proposed bridge weighs 1,300 tonnes, it is made of reinforced concrete, albeit, with green steel plates covered in fake rivets."

Boxted bridge campaigners show alleged new height of the bridge

Suki Cohen (left) local supporter of Save our Bridge campaign with Sir Bernard Jenkin MP (right) attempting to see over the higher parapet of the proposed replacement bridge. - Credit: Lucina de Jasay

With plans validated, comments are able to be left via the planning portals of Mid Suffolk & Babergh as well as Essex County Council.

The project has been set a determination deadline of early March 2022.

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