Anger as builders damage bridge and strike gas pipe

A historic bridge has been damaged by builders who also caused a power cut in Bridge Terrace, Sudbury.   Pictured: Resident Peter Hall ANL-141119-075601009

A historic bridge has been damaged by builders who also caused a power cut in Bridge Terrace, Sudbury. Pictured: Resident Peter Hall ANL-141119-075601009

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A number of residents in Sudbury have reacted angrily after a 150-year-old bridge was damaged by builders.

The close-knit community in Bridge Terrace, Sudbury, were upset to find contractors attempting to lower the ground level of a track running under a historic footbridge on Thursday afternoon.

They were left open-mouthed when the builders then damaged the bridge, leaving large cracks, before hitting a gas pipe and electric cabling, causing a power cut.

Landowner Chris King had already cleared an area of land that was formerly a quarry at the end of the terrace leading from East Street, with planning permission given for a two-storey house, and an application in place for a second house.

As part of the building work, contractors were asked to dig down under the bridge, but hit it, damaging the structure.

UK Power Networks were called and power was switched off for two hours while the cabling was checked and repaired.

“There was a big spark and a bang when he hit it,” said Peter Hall, who lives in the terrace. “We lost power for two hours.”

The 73-year-old claimed the whole bridge was lifted by the digger, which caused large cracks to appear on both sides.

Residents have paid for the upkeep of the bridge and have written to Mr King to request that no further work is carried out.

“It’s such a shame as it goes back more than 150 years,” said Mr Hall. “We all pay for it and then something like this happens.

“We are going to have a surveyor come to see whether it needs demolishing.”

Residents also contacted Babergh District Council, fearing the bridge may be unsafe, but these worries were alleviated following a safety assessment by council workers.

The area underneath the bridge, where pipe work and cabling was hit, has had to be fenced off.

Gary Starling, corporate manager for development control at the council, said they would be carrying out further investigations into the cause of the damage, and into who owned the bridge and the land underneath it.

Lee French, Mr King’s planning agent at Medusa Design, said the incident was an unfortunate accident, adding that Mr King had spoken to the owner of the bridge and apologised, also offering to pay for the damage caused.

Mr Hall, who lives next to the plot being developed, said he was unhappy with the work taking place, describing it as looking “like the blitz”.

“It was a nice piece of habitat right in the centre of Sudbury,” he said, adding it was formerly frequented by muntjac deer, foxes and hedgehogs. “That’s why we bought here – it looked nice and tranquil.”