£4.5m bridge plans to replace 'notorious' Lindsell level crossing backed by town council - despite being branded an eyesore
Safety concerns have prompted Network Rail to design the bridge costing more than £4.5m
A bridge planned to replace a notorious East Coast Main Line crossing at Biggleswade has the backing of the town council, despite one councillor branding it "an eyesore", "appalling" and "dreadful".
Safety concerns have prompted Network Rail to design a bridleway bridge costing more than £4.5m as a replacement for the nearby Lindsells crossing.
Plans for the project have been submitted to Central Bedfordshire Council and were being considered for comment by town councillors last night (Tues 1st).
Conservative Biggleswade North and town councillor Ian Bond spoke about the proposals before leaving the meeting for the remainder of the discussion.
"Lindsells crossing has been around for a long time," he explained. "It's been the scene of suicides and loss of life.
"The prime reason of Network Rail is to close the crossing for safety reasons.
"That objective is being achieved through the housing infrastructure fund (HIF).
"The solution we have in front of us is a massive steel bridge. It's constrained by the fact it's a bridleway.
"You've got a 200m ramp either side, and a bridge which spans 60m across the railway line and is 11.5m in height.
"We need to get the best solution for those who use it and for the community," he added.
"I'm grateful Network Rail was persuaded to reinstate steps into the design and is to provide pathways suitable for cycle routes.
"What's lacking is sufficient planting to shield the bridge. The landscaping plan appears to have been done at the last minute."
Town councillor Mark Knight said he supports the need for a bridge, but described it as "a dreadful design".
Proposing to object, he warned: "Network Rail needs to go back to the drawing board. The current design has no architectural integrity.
"I'd rather see it delayed and done well than have this appalling design built.
"Biggleswade deserves a design icon, instead of an eyesore."
Nobody seconded his proposal that the scheme would have a negative impact on the surroundings, with insufficient landscaping.
Councillor Rob Pullinger said: "We always knew it was going to be a double backed bridge of the style planned here.
"I'm pleased the steps are included, which was a concern. I propose we don't object to the application.
"But we put in a strong recommendation for planning conditions around the landscaping to minimise the visual impact on the surrounding area."
Town councillor Duncan Strachan agreed, saying: "We've waited a long time to get this. The alternative would be a crossing there.
"This one could be shielded as it's in a place where screening could be achieved.
"Hopefully we'll get a bridge to the south of Biggleswade to complete the Green Wheel that way because the crossings over the East Coast Main Line are absolutely abominable. We've got to save lives."
Conservative Biggleswade South and town councillor Mark Foster said: "I'm torn with this because it's not something that's good on the eye.
"It's an unsatisfactory compromise we have to make. I don't think timescales allow for a redesign.
"It's not great for Biggleswade, but it does alleviate some of the other issues around bridleways and footpaths."
Councillors agreed not to object, but to ask for strong conditions around landscaping and to be consulted on this.
CBC's development management committee will consider whether to approve or refuse the application in due course.