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Rail bosses to bridge the gap between South Hinksey and Oxford
A BRIDGE for pedestrians linking South Hinksey and Oxford will not be demolished without a replacement, Network Rail has pledged.
The rail company has promised not to demolish Hinksey Bridge without constructing a replacement after a planning row forced it to think again about providing disabled ramps.
The company wants to build the new bridge connecting South Hinksey and Oxford because the current one is too low for the overhead wires which need to be installed as part of the electrification of the line.
Plans for the replacement bridge were thrown out by Oxford City Council because the designs did not include any ramps for the disabled and those with pushchairs.
City council officers warned that Network Rail could appeal the decision and after the meeting a spokesman said the company was considering “all options”.
But Network Rail spokesman Sam Kelly has said the company will not demolish the bridge without a replacement, despite the fact that the company can do so without seeking planning approval.
The company 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”.
Prior approval is decided on narrower grounds than a normal planning application.
These grounds are that the development ought to be and could be reasonably carried out elsewhere and that the design of the bridge would “injure the amenity of the neighbourhood” and could be modified to avoid such injury.
South Hinksey resident Peter Rawcliffe, who has been campaigning for ramps on the new bridge, said: “I am pleased Network Rail has given the undertaking not to simply demolish the bridge.”
City councillor John Tanner, who was on the planning committee which refused the prior approval, said: “I am very pleased Network Rail has said this.
“It would be outrageous if they were to knock the bridge down without replacing it.
“Lets hope this is the first step towards getting a modern bridge with access for wheelchairs and prams.
“Network Rail needs the cooperation of the city council to electrify the rail line and we all want to see that happen, but it is daft to put up a new bridge which is a replica from the 1940s.”