Sidmouth campaigners beat bridge height restriction

Walkway group press forward for new bridge scheme to Sidmouth’s Connaught Gardens

FOOTBRIDGE campaigners in Sidmouth are feeling more positive after being told there is no evidence that Brussels has any influence over the height of a footway linking Manor Road car park to Connaught Gardens.

Freddy Wedderburn and Brian Black are the driving force, with others, behind the project, and now believe, without previous height restrictions being enforced, they can deliver an attractive bridge leading straight across the road without the unsightly ramps of a previous design.

Originally, Sidmouth Millennium Walkway Group was told any bridge had to have 5.7metres (18’ 8”) clearance, and a public appeal was launched to raise �400,000. However, an application was rejected by East Devon District Council.

Now the group has researched bridge heights and has the backing of East Devon MP Hugo Swire in its bid to build a footbridge from the car park to Connaught Gardens over Peak Hill Road.

Mr Wedderburn, who lives in Sidford, said: “Our MEP, Giles Chichester, has investigated this and has written to us saying he can find no reason why this issue (of height) needs to be referred to Brussels.

“If necessary we will apply to the Highways Authority in London for the relaxation of alleged rules, which we now know don’t come from Brussels.”

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Previously the group was told the European government would not allow any bridge to be built at the site unless it met the height restrictions on major carriageways.

The group has gone to bridge specialists Beaver Bridges from Shropshire to choose the type of bridge they would like to see installed at the Sidmouth site, which would help the elderly, disabled and those with prams and pushchairs to cross the road safely.

“I met Henry Beaver on site the other week. He is in charge of the project and has suggested something perfect for the site,” said Mr Wedderburn.

He said the bridge would go straight across the road, further down from the original planned crossing point.

If any future application to install the bridge, pictured, is approved by EDDC, the cost would be considerably less than the original bridge at around �50,000.