Green light for bridge over the River Wye
Twm Owen, local democracy reporter
A new footbridge over the River Wye has been given the approval of councillors who have said it is vital for addressing road safety in Monmouth.
However confirmation that Wales’ environment body Natural Resources Wales is satisfied the bridge doesn’t pose any harm to the river’s special conservation status is required before the planning permission can be formally approved.
Building work is expected to take up to two years as conservation issues will dictate periods when work cannot take place, while part of an existing riverside car park will be used as a construction compound.
The ‘single span bridge’ is intended for walkers and cyclists to be able to cross the river as an alternative the existing Wye road bridge, 70 metres downstream, which dates back to the 19th century and has only a narrow pavement across it.
Wyesham councillor Emma Bryn, who was unable to vote on the application after declaring an interest, spoke in favour of approving the plans submitted by Monmouthshire County Council at the authority’s planning committee meeting.
The independent member said a cycling and footbridge was the brainchild of three local residents who met with the county council in November 2017 and said volunteers, including from the Women’s Institute and Haberdashers private school, had helped collect data to show that a bridge was needed.
It’s estimated there are 1,424 pedestrian and 130 cyclist journeys across the existing listed bridge, which is used by traffic travelling from South Wales to the West Midlands, every day.
“Thousands of journeys are made by local school children and HGV drivers cross the kerb,” said Cllr Bryn, who said there have been near misses in which children’s sports bags have almost been hit by lorries or their wing mirrors have nearly clipped children’s heads.
The bridge, which will link with existing cycling and walking routes, including those which form part of the Offa’s Dyke and Wye Valley paths, will stretch for 70m across the river and will be 4.13m wide.
Planning officer Philip Thomas said having to use the existing bridge is “detrimental” to a “modal shift” to get more people walking or cycling rather than driving and said, as it is listed, expanding or widening the bridge would be difficult.
Chepstow Labour councillor Dale Rooke said he feared the planning committee nearly witnessed a walker getting hit by a driver during their site visit to the existing bridge last week.
He said: “There were two walkers passed by a HGV that mounted the kerb to get around the corner and if it hadn’t have been for the lady pulling the gentleman towards her I could have seen something serious happen.”
He also said the bridge would save money for Monmouth Comprehensive School as it currently doesn’t allow pupils to walk along the road, and cross the bridge, for rowing. He added: “It will not only keep children safe it will save them so much money in the longer term if they don’t have to keep dragging their minibus out.”
Lighting on the bridge will be directed toward the path to minimise the impact on wildlife in the river and in response to a question from Conservative councillor for Goetre Fawr, Jan Butler, it was confirmed the council is consulting with access groups on illumination.
The application also included landscaping on the east and west banks of the river and improvements to the surrounding area. The path leading to the bridge will be at least 40m from the nearest homes, but will be raised, and a 1.8m tall screening fence will be put in place.
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.