PLANS to demolish the old railway bridge over Green Lane have been unanimously rejected by Studley Parish Councillors.
A planning application from Redditch Borough Council calls for the bulldozing of the blue-brick Victorian bridge, the levelling of the railway embankment and demolition of an existing empty property and construction of two new houses.
The plans would also see the route of the path altered, forcing people to cross Green Lane at street level, putting them in direct conflict with traffic.
The bridge, now a valuable traffic-free route for pedestrians and cyclists, lies within Studley parish in Warwickshire, but was acquired by Redditch Development Corporation and then inherited by Redditch Borough Council.
Councillor Paul Beaman told a Parish Council meeting on Tuesday, March 17, that the bridge was a heritage asset, part of the old Redditch to Harvington line.
“By demolishing this bridge they will also be removing any height restriction and creating a rat-run for cars and HGVs and avoiding Crabbs Cross island,” he said.
“There is also a policy in place in the Stratford core strategy that prevents development in this area as it’s in the Green Belt which is there to protect the separation between Redditch and Studley.”
Coun Mike Osborne warned if given the go-ahead the plan could be ‘the tip of the iceberg’ of Green Belt development and lead to that separation disappearing all together.
Parish Chair Coun Colin Summers reminded councillors that the safest way to cross a road was a bridge and Redditch’s plans would be putting lives at risk.
Redditch Councillors have previously claimed the bridge, built more than a century ago, is unsafe.
However the meeting had before it a report from civil engineer Roger Tice of Richter Associates who had reviewed the condition of its masonry.
In it he says the structure ‘needs some maintenance’ as it is overrun with vegetation, but concludes the bridge is in ‘ very good condition’ – a verdict which mirrors that of a report written in December 2019 by officers at Redditch Borough Council.
Parish Councillors voted unanimously to object to the plans.
Redditch had previously offered the bridge to Studley ‘warts and all’ and it is still hoped either Warwickshire County Council or Stratford District Council could adopt it.