THE demolition of the much-loved old railway bridge over Green Lane is back on the Redditch Borough Council agenda.
Earlier this year efforts by the council to bulldoze the bridge – which is now part of a popular cycle path and walkway linking Studley and Redditch – sparked a widespread protest from local residents and a petition signed by thousands.
That attempt failed after neighbouring Stratford District Council objected to plans to not only knock down the Victorian landmark but also to build two new houses on green belt land.
The bridge lies in Stratford district, but, by a quirk of the old Redditch Development Corporation, is the responsibility of the borough council, which has to pay for its upkeep.
Councillors from Redditch’s controlling Conservative group claim the bridge is unsafe and needs to be demolished.
However this runs contrary to a report from civil engineer Roger Tice of Richter Associates, who has reviewed the condition of its masonry.
In a report 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 a report written in December 2019 by officers at Redditch Borough Council.
In its latest move, councillors at the authority’s executive meeting on Tuesday night, September 8, heard the intention is to drop plans to build the two houses in an effort to appease Stratford District Council.
The meeting was also told the borough had previously offered the bridge ‘warts and all’ for free to Studley Parish Council and Stratford but neither had accepted the offer.
It is also understood Redditch would seek to ‘straighten the road’ but objectors say demolishing the bridge and removing the S bend there would increase the likelihood of it being used as a rat run for both commuters and Eastern Gateway traffic looking to avoid Crabbs Cross island.
District Councillor Peter Hencher-Serafin (Lib Dem, Studley and Mappleborough Green) said: “I see we will have to continue the fight to save the bridge.
“There is nothing structurally wrong with it and I am looking into getting it declared a community asset and protected.”
Local resident Ed Thomas of Wire Hill added: “I’m not surprised with our council. That bridge does not need a lot of work – my goodness, it just needs the weeds cutting back.”
Under the Redditch scheme the bridge would be replaced by a crossing point at road level.
The blue brick structure is due for its biannual inspection by Warwickshire County Council, the highways authority, next month.