New bridge to be built over River Avon near Bath

The plans involve building a bridge over the River Avon
The River Avon Credit: Google

A new bridge will be built across the River Avon to help lorries access a Wessex Water treatment plant - despite residents' objections.

Wessex Water says the new bridge is needed to take lorries off a narrow stretch of road and improve access.

But people living in Bitton objected, saying it will bring more traffic to their village.

Wessex Water says the bridge - which will be built over the river at Bitton - is needed because of future expansion plans.

Currently vehicles access the site is through the village of Saltford, but the firm says HGVs struggle to negotiate pinch points and height restrictions on High Street and Mead Lane – a route which is also prone to flooding.

The firm submitted plans for a 400-metre access road to the A431 at Bitton and a new single-span bridge for use by its vehicles and walkers to cross the river.

Bath and North East Somerset Council approved the application but came under criticism from Bitton Parish Council for “riding roughshod over our residents”.

The parish council said Bitton would “bear the brunt of this shocking proposal”, describing the increase in traffic as a "recipe for disaster".

It added: “If this proposal goes ahead the green credentials of the area will be lost forever."

Kingswood MP Chris Skidmore said he would oppose the scheme unless Bitton and Swineford residents got robust flood mitigation measures and comprehensive action to address the impact on traffic levels and road safety.

Public comments were also critical and Cassie Perryman, one of 89 objectors, said: "It seems insane to send heavy plant traffic through a small village and past a primary school when there is no benefit to the village itself and traffic is already problematic."

Martine Kinsman said the scheme would be “disastrous” for Bitton, which already suffers from traffic “thundering” through the village.

Views across the water were vastly supportive of the bridge with 75 letters of support and Saltford Parish Council welcoming steps to reduce congestion on the A4 and “spread the load on local roads more evenly”.

North East Somerset MP, Jacob Rees-Mogg, supports the plans to build the bridge

The comments were backed by North East Somerset MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, while ward councillor Alastair Singleton said the scheme offered the “optimal solution for carrying out the necessary expansion in an environmentally sensitive way”.

Approving the application, BANES Council planning officers said the proposal would see traffic redistributed across the local network.

They said a quarter of vehicles will continue to use the existing access, Norman Road will see a 20% reduction in traffic, and the impact on the A431 and A4174 will be negligible.

The officers said: “The proposal will directly provide wider benefits to the community by improving access to the public right of way.

“The new route will also help to reduce heavy vehicular traffic to the site via Saltford and Mead Lane which has access issues.

“The proposed scheme also provides a number of environmental enhancements including utilising the floodplain compensation area that will be required to offset the loss of floodplain."

Credit: Stephen Sumner (Local Democracy Reporting Service)