Concerns over safety of historic footbridge

Peter Hall in front of the bridge after it was struck in 2014.
Peter Hall in front of the bridge after it was struck in 2014.

A resident who moved into his dream cottage after retiring is thinking about leaving with continued fears over damage to a historic footbridge.

Peter Hall, 74, lives in Bridge Terrace, Sudbury, with his wife Gill in a row of terraced cottages, originally built for workers at a former pit.

The pit had become wildlife paradise in the centre of the town, the two-bedroom home perfect when the couple moved here seven years ago.

With the need to find thousands of new homes in the district, planning permission has been given to several properties in and around the former pit.

But Mr Hall insists he is not against new homes being built.

He understands the need for housing in the district and the decision to ‘in fill’ unused land, but is looking forward to seeing the homes built, no longer having to live next to a building site.

His other hope is that the historic bridge, thought to be more than 150-years-old is repaired and checked over, with continued fears over its structural safety. The bridge was struck during works on the site being developed by landowner Chris King in November 2014.

Residents were aghast to find contractors trying to lower the ground level of a track running under the footbridge, exploring the use of the track as a means of access to and from the new homes from East Street.

The works left the bridge cracked, while a gas pipe and electric cabling were also struck, causing a power cut.

Mr Hall said he was worried what might happen to the bridge, which is thought to be up to 150-years-old, if there was a bout of severe weather.

“To me if it’s left any longer the defect could get worse and it could be a health risk,” he said.

He wants to see proper engineering checks carried out to ensure it is safe after any work is carried out.

There is hope for Mr Hall. Mr King’s planning agent confirmed that works to the bridge were in hand and would be completed in the spring.

At the time of the accident Babergh District Council planning officer John Davies deemed the works - carried out before planning permission was granted - as “unauthorised”.

Planning permission has now been given for a property on the site, with a further application awaiting a decision from Babergh’s planning committee.

However, vehicle access was forbidden under the bridge, with concerns over a lack of access for emergency vehicles.

A year later Mr Hall is looking at leaving his one-time dream home, the cracked bridge now more of an eye-sore than an attraction.

“It’s been a year since the damage was done and the bridge has not been repaired properly,” said Mr Hall. “Mr King said once the work was started he would have the bridge repaired. He’s patched it up but the patching seems to have washed away and it looks a bit of an eye-sore.”