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Decision imminent on demolition of footbridge
Buy this photo » A cyclist negotiates the steep steps of the Hinksey footbridge
A GOVERMENT inspector’s ruling on whether a railway footbridge in Oxford can be demolished is imminent.
Peter Rickett, a spokesman for the Planning Inspectorate, said a decision on an appeal regarding Hinksey Bridge, which links South Oxford and the path to South Hinksey village, is expected before Christmas or early in the new year.
The existing bridge, which runs from near Lake Street in South Oxford, has to be replaced as part of plans for electrifiction of the line.
But Network Rail says it cannot afford to include ramps – which would make it easier for cyclists, people with children in buggies and the disabled to negotiate the tall bridge.
South Hinksey resident Peter Rawcliffe, who has been heading a campaign for Network Rail to include ramps, said: “The Planning Inspectorate has said the decision will be any day.
“It will be a pretty big decision whichever way it goes.
“If the planning inspector allows the appeal then it could have big implications for bridges up and down the country, but we think Hinksey Bridge is a special case because it connects two communities.”
Plans for the replacement bridge were thrown out by the city council because it did not include ramps.
Network Rail says it has only been given the funding for a like-for-like replacement of the bridge and that disabled ramps could, in theory, be added at a later date.
Under the Oxford and Rugby Railways Act 1845, Network Rail does not have to seek planning permission to replace Hinksey Bridge, but merely needs “prior approval” which is decided on narrower grounds than a normal planning application. Grounds include that the design of the bridge would “injure the amenity of the neighbourhood” and could be modified to avoid such injury.
The company has now submitted a similar application for the railway footbridge off Whitehouse Road which runs to college sports pitches and Hogacre Common, also without ramps.
Network Rail spokesman Russell Spink said he did not have any information about when the appeal result would be announced.
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