Gardens footbridge plan filed

PLANS have been submitted by Sidmouth Millennium Walkway Group to build a footbridge from Manor Road car park to Connaught Gardens.

PLANS have been submitted by Sidmouth Millennium Walkway Group to build a footbridge from Manor Road car park to Connaught Gardens.A public appeal to help fund the project, estimated at £300,000, was launched last year. So far the group, chaired by Freddy Wedderburn, has received £20,000 in pledges and donations.He and group members Jack Shaw, Brian Black and Chris Wale, hope East Devon District Council will partnership fund the bridge, which they say will give safer access to the gardens.Howick Consultants, involved with the millennium Clifton Walkway scheme, submitted the application to EDDC on Friday. The council asked for an arboriculturalist's report on the trees and shrubbery that might be affected by the work as there are unique specimen trees near the site."We are carefully doing this to avoid trees," said Mr Shaw, a retired chartered civil engineer. "The main problem is the bridge has to clear 5.7metres over the road, which makes the ramps longer."Of four schemes designed by Howick, the one chosen shows dog-legged ramps in the car park and gardens to allow for the height."Our objective is to have the minimum disturbance possible," said Mr Wedderburn, who added there would be re-planting to conceal the garden side of the bridge, which would end beside its public toilets.He added: "Older people cannot get to the gardens because they cannot climb the narrow slippery steps."Three weeks ago, the group met EDDC leader Councillor Sara Randall Johnson who told them it currently had no money for the bridge.Mr Wedderburn said: "We wanted moral support and the blessing of a partnership. She didn't blow us out of the water and suggested we put a planning application."One way or another, the money has to be raised and in due course we will be asking the community to help us raise the funds. This is beneficial to everyone and at no extra cost because the gardens are free."If planning consent is given, the group will submit a lottery application for funding. A widow from Leeds, who enjoyed holidays in Sidmouth with her husband, has sent £500 for the bridge fund, with a similar figure for Sidmouth Lifeboat.

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