Plans lodged for historic footbridge to return over River Gipping
- Credit: Nathan Whittaker
Plans have been lodged to reinstate a historic footbridge over the River Gipping near Baylham, which will help restore the walking footpath to its prime.
The River Gipping Trust has submitted a planning application to Babergh District Council to use the old brick bridge abutments from the 1790s to restore a bridge just upstream of Baylham Mill.
A fundraising drive has begun for the £25,000 scheme, which trust members said would "improve the walking experience of those that use the Gipping Way" with project co-ordinators attempting to replicate the old design as much as possible.
According to the trust, the footpath was diverted away from the river towpath several years ago at the request of a landowner, running instead along the nearby rail line.
In its planning statement, the trust said: "The main problem with the diversion is that in summer the area by the rail track become impassable due to very tall nettles encroaching from the adjoining land.
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"In wintery wet weather it floods and is impassable without wearing wellington boots, and it has no views of the river.
"The River Gipping Trust (RGT) has the permission of the current land owners for a permissive footpath that, in effect, reinstates it back to the towpath route.
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"This will totally remove all the problems associated with the old footpath and walkers will get a much better view of the river and the old wooden mill at Baylham.
"What makes this project really exciting is that the old bridge across the river will also need to be reinstated as the platform was removed when the footpath was diverted.
"Fortunately, the original abutments can still be used subject to the recommendations of the structural engineer that has been carried out."
The trust has had some expressions of interest for funding, but needs to secure planning permission in order to pursue grants.
The plans have been backed by Needham Market Town Council, Baylham Parish Meeting, the Stowmarket Ramblers footpath committee and councillor Mike Norris, who said the trust deserved "wholehearted support" for their efforts in restoring a bridge.
If approved, CTS Bridge Ltd will be commissioned to carry out the work.