Mixed views as residents have say on new bridge in Pelsall
Controversial plans to build a new bridge over the Essington and Wyrley Canal would "devastate" nearby residents if given the green light, it has been claimed.
Dozens of residents attended a community event as part of the consultation into the £3 million plan to build a new bridge next to the narrow 1800s York's Bridge, after a proposal was thrown out by the Secretary of State in 2015 because it could encroach on common land in Pelsall.
Some of the residents were supporting the plans at the first consultation road-show event at Pelsall Community Centre on Tuesday, while others were fiercely opposing the new bridge.
Sim Mayou, of Pelsall Civic Heritage Trust, said: "We got the plans quashed two years ago, so it would be devastating if this plan is approved.
"It's going to bring a lot of heavy traffic into Pelsall and create a lot of problems because we haven't got roads that will take a lot of traffic.
"I'm afraid it will destroy our village. We have found companies that would survey the bridge but the council won't accept it.
"I would urge residents not to support this scheme."
Resident Gary Turner said the junction on Norton Road will not take HGVs.
Alan Edgar lives in a bungalow next to the site of the proposed new bridge.
He said he has concerns that it will affect the value of nearby properties.
"We feel like we're banging our heads against a brick wall sometimes, the decision has already been made," he added.
"At the moment there's a hump in the bridge so people have to slow down but they won't with the new bridge."
Representatives from the Friends of Pelsall Commons were at the event and said they are supporting this plan and supported the previous plan too.
Chairwoman Sheila Lewis said: "We were very disappointed the last scheme was turned down.
"We think this plan is a good compromise, we will keep the heritage and the pub which is part of the heritage.
"I can't see it being turned down, that bridge would have to be closed eventually.
"We do feel sorry for the people that live nearby but at the end of the day it's for the greater good of the area."
Walsall Council's principal engineer, Geoff Porter, said more than 50 people came to the event.
He said: "It's been a good turn out, we've had a number of different view points, both positive and negative."
Land at Moat Farm pool was identified for the 2015 scheme together with a strip of land to the east of Norton Road, south of the canal.
Now Walsall Council has identified land at High Bridges, Pelsall, for the scheme.
The council says in the consultation information: "Its brick-arch construction, poor alignments and lack of footways make it unsuitable for modern traffic and unsafe for pedestrians and cyclists.
"The bridge structure has suffered over recent decades and the bridge is currently the subject of a 7.5 tonne weight limit — well below the national requirement of 44 tonnes.
"If no action is taken the bridge will continue to weaken to the point where closure to all road traffic might have to be considered.
"Options to strengthen the existing bridge have been considered extensively however, unfortunately, these options have had to be discounted as they could not ensure the bridge would conform to current design standards or address the issues associated with poor carriageway alignment.
"As such, a new bridge is the only solution that will address the current problems associated with the existing bridge."
The public consultation opened earlier this month and will run until April 5.
After the consultation has closed a formal planning application will be submitted in May.
Walsall Council said a start date for construction cannot be 'tightly defined', but that construction of the new bridge would take up to 18 months.
For more information visit https://go.walsall.gov.uk/yorks-bridge