Plans to demolish the footbridge over the River Chew in Keynsham’s Memorial Park have been revealed, almost three years after it was closed because it was considered unsafe.
Bath & North East Somerset Council wants to demolish the bridge, which is near the bandstand, this autumn. A planning application for a replacement bridge is planned for next year. The council says it has a fully funded budget in place.
The bridge was closed in October 2019 after a visual inspection revealed that beams had decayed. Barriers were put up at both sides of the bridge and alternative routes signposted. At the time the council said the bridge would remain closed while its condition was fully investigated and a decision taken on the next steps.
At the end of 2020 local councillors started a petition calling on the council to get on and repair the footbridge, highlighting how inconvenient the closure is to a great many people who used it.
Now the planning application which has been lodged says that following a detailed appraisal of the bridge’s condition by project engineers, Curtins, it has been confirmed that existing structure is beyond repair.
A report as part of the application says: “Alternative routes take pedestrians out of the park and onto Bath Hill and requires the use of the west side of Avon Mill Lane. It is acknowledged that this is an unsatisfactory situation for pedestrians and users of the park.”
The timber deck will be removed during the demolition by a crane. The concrete central pier will be broken down and removed in pieces. Restraints and braces will be applied to the central pier so that it cannot fall towards the river during the demolition.
The abutments will be kept and stabilised, with minor modifications made as part of subsequent works for a new deck.
Earlier this year the council asked people who use Keynsham Park to take part in a survey about the issues and priorities for investment. B&NES Council says that while budgets to maintain the parks are tight, it understands there are several issues that may be priorities for regular users including replacing the footbridge, that the river above the weir is filling with silt, and that the play area equipment is old.
The Keynsham Park Improvement Project, which the town council is also involved in, includes attracting more visitors to Keynsham to boost the local economy, increasing opportunities to improve health and wellbeing, and protecting and enhancing nature.