In last month’s update I shared the latest email from the Council, and also three key questions about the current state of play. Thanks to the efforts of councillor Don Alexander, I now have answers to these questions from the Council structures team. Here are my questions followed by the Council’s answers:
Q. In your previous email in May, you said: “currently the aim is to finish the assessments by July and then engage with the community (perhaps a workshop or meeting) about the costed options and to consider the next steps”. However your latest email suggests that there is now a single proposal, involving raising the bridge’s height, which is being prepared for planning. Is this the case? Or are other options being considered as a result of the feasibility study? And are you still intending to engage with the community on this?
A. Bristol City Council have undertaken the necessary investigations and has taken the professional advice and recommendations as set out in the feasibility report. The only feasible option if the bridge is to be reinstalled is to raise the bridge to minimise the potential of impact from HGV’s.
Q. At the end of your email, there’s a line reading: “Based on this I would expect us to only be in a position to undertake the site required works in the early New financial year 2019/20.” Does this refer to the actual bridge repair, or just the dismantling, or other?
Bristol City Council are currently unable to commit on any works as this is dependent upon Planning Permission and Listed Consent (soon due to be applied for), both of which are required to even remove the bridge, and whose response we cannot pre-determine. Unfortunately We will not be in a position to be able to commit to the bridge reinstatement early in the 2019/20 financial year.
The required Heritage Statement is currently being prepared for Listed Consent submission and this heritage assessment will provide a statement of heritage significance that should inform the detailed design process and be referenced within any forthcoming design and access statement that accompanies the planning and listed building application.
Q. In your 13 March email, you also spoke about the budgeting options for the repair, including the potential allocation of capital funding: “The intention from Stage one investigations is to have costed options to allow a high level decision to be made as to the provision of Capital funding to facilitate the re-establishment of this footbridge structure.” What is the situation on this currently? If (as per point 1) there is now a costed proposal, has budget been allocated or planned for?
At this present time, the Council has not allocated any Capital funding with regard to this footbridge and its potential reinstatement.
So – it seems that the only plan now is to raise the bridge. This, like any other repair, is subject to approval by Historic England as the bridge is Grade II listed. I understand the application is going in to HE this week or next.
Assuming that gets approval (big assumption) there is then the question of the funds for the actual repair which – as per above – don’t currently exist.
Finally, I had a note yesterday from Don Alexander (who has been chasing info from the structures team at the Council) to say:
I certainly will open up the discussion to residents when we have something more to say.
So it seems there is still an intention to involve / share plans with locals – but no suggested time frame for this.
As ever, I’ll update when I hear more…