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Controversial bridge plans approved despite residents' privacy fears

PUBLISHED: 11:57 09 October 2019 | UPDATED: 11:58 09 October 2019

UK sustainable transport charity Sustrans were commissioned by the council to create the plans. Pictured are Philip Broadbent-Yale and Michael Melnyczuk of Sustrans. PHOTO: East Suffolk District Council

UK sustainable transport charity Sustrans were commissioned by the council to create the plans. Pictured are Philip Broadbent-Yale and Michael Melnyczuk of Sustrans. PHOTO: East Suffolk District Council

Archant

Controversial plans to replace a Victorian pedestrian bridge have been given the green light by councillors.

Plans had been submitted by East Suffolk Council to build a new pedestrian and cycle bridge over the railway line between Constable Close and Harbour Road in Lowestoft, with the council's planning committee approving the plans by five votes to two at a meeting on Tuesday.

Yet residents in Constable Close raised concerns of having their privacy invaded and feared an increase of anti-social behaviour.

Other bridge users voiced concerns about the suitability of Harbour Road for wheelchair users, or those with pushchairs, arguing the road was pothole-ridden and badly lit.

Councillor Andree Gee said: "I know the path very well and it is a lovely, natural, ecological area, but the footpath and Harbour Road is unsuitable.

"I would have thought people would feel quite vulnerable pushing wheelchairs and prams there.

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"It could also be quite intrusive for those living on Constable Close.

"I am also concerned about the loss of fine trees that will be cut down for this. It will take years for the new trees to grow to the height of the ones felled."

Councillor Tony Goldson added: "I use Harbour Road but it is too dark to see the potholes."

While Oulton Broad Parish Council recommended approval, Lowestoft mayor Alice Taylor spoke on behalf of the town council at the meeting to voice their objections, saying the council felt the design of the bridge was "too large for the environment."

The proposal was aimed at promoting the use of sustainable transport methods and "deliver an important link in the cycle and pedestrian network."

Councillor Malcolm Pitchers said: "My family and I used the current bridge a lot and the problem we always had was there had to be two adults there to get a buggy up and down the steps on the current bridge. It is virtually inaccessible.

"This is the minimum size it can be. The only other way would be to have steps instead but then there would be no difference to what is currently there.

"It will be a great thing for families."

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