A NEW bridge across the river Cherwell in Christ Church Meadow is being proposed by Christ Church.
The college has submitted a planning application to build The Jubilee Bridge, which will link the meadow to the college’s playing fields.
The 28m long footbridge would be built on the site of an historic ferry crossing point of the Cherwell.
But while members of the public will be able to enjoy views from the steel bridge, only Christ Church students and staff would be able to cross it. A gate will block access to the sports ground side of the river.
James Lawrie, the Christ Church treasurer, said: “The Jubilee Bridge replaces an historic static punt that fell into disuse. We wish to reinstate the link to enable our students to go from Christ Church Meadow to our sports grounds and also our student accommodation in the Iffley Road.
“We think that it is an elegant modern design and does not impose itself on the landscape. It is a steel bridge with a timber walkway. What we are planning will allow the public access to the bridge itself to enjoy views up and down the river.”
He said a locked gate would block public access to the sports ground and tennis courts for reasons of security, with the facilities shared with children at Magdalen College School.
The bridge will not be open for cyclists, with cycles not allowed in the Meadow. At the proposed bridge site remnants of the ferry survive with stone steps visible descending into the water.
The bridge would have a minimum 10ft clearance between the high water line and the underside of the bridge to allow boats to pass beneath, in one of the busiest stretches of the Cherwell for punting.
It is named the Jubilee Bridge in honour of the Queen, who has a close link with Christ Church as Visitor of the college.
The college declined to reveal the cost of the bridge, which it hopes could be completed by the beginning of Trinity Term in late April.
But the bridge is not being welcomed by all university sportsmen. One hockey player from Keble College told The Oxford Student that the bridge was “a cheeky shortcut” adding, “It would not be any hardship to allow all university students to use this bridge.”
The application is due to be determined by officers on February 1.
Peter Thompson, chairman of Oxford Civic Society, said: “We received a presentation from Christ Church. The design of the bridge could be viewed as an enhancement of the location and re-establishes it as a crossing point.”
But he said the bridge should be opened up to the public, to allow the possibility of a new public footpath being created along the banks of the Cherwell, running from Christ Church Meadow to the end of Jackdaw Lane. It could be achieved by having a gate a few yards away from the bridge, he maintained.
Mr Thompson said: “One of the benefits of the bridge is the possibility of opening up this footpath.”