The Reconstruction of Whitchurch Bridge - information is on a separate page
Whitchurch Bridge carries the B471 over the River Thames between Pangbourne in West Berkshire, and Whitchurch-on-Thames in Oxfordshire. It lies within the civil parish of Whitchurch-on-Thames, which in turn lies within the district of South Oxfordshire and the county of Oxfordshire.
Whitchurch Bridge lies within the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Whitchurch-on-Thames Conservation Area, and is a Grade II listed structure for planning purposes. The local Planning authority is South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC).
The Bridge is subject to a statutory weight limit of 7.5 tonnes mgw. Access to the Bridge is restricted by a low railway over-Bridge (11 feet headroom) on the Pangbourne (south) approach, and limiting road widths and a steep hill in Whitchurch-on-Thames.
The Company has responded to local concerns about pedestrian safety on the Pangbourne approach road by commissioning a Feasibility Study into what could be done to upgrade the footways on the approaches to the Bridge to increase footway and roadway widths and to reduce crossing points etc. It should be noted that the Company owns the highway only between the railings from the Surgery entrance to the Bridge: the land outside the railings is owned by others and a transfer of ownership would need to be agreed if the highway is to be widened.
As part of informal consultations with Pangbourne and Whitchurch-on-Thames Parish Councils, the Company produced a Stage 2 Options Document. This document was used as a basis for consultations in 2012 with West Berkshire Council (as local Planning Authority) and the conclusions were:
a) any upgrade work, including the relocation of the footway to the downstream side of the Bridge, should preferably include widening of the roadway and the provision of a verge on the non-footway side. Such works would require Planning Permission. There is insufficient time to obtain this before the completion of tender documentation for the reconstruction of the Bridge in December 2012, so there will be no change in the position of the footway on the Bridge during the reconstruction of the Bridge.
b) if land is to be acquired for widening the Pangbourne approach road, West Berkshire Council favours taking land from the Adventure Dolphin side rather than the Boathouse Surgery side, as they consider that this would be less harmful to trees and the natural environment.
c) a) and b) together lead to Option 1B being the preferred Option from the Stage 2 Options Document.
d) the Company will not be in a position to financially commit to any works on the Pangbourne approach road until it has completed the reconstruction of the Bridge in Autumn 2014. The Company will not submit a Planning Application for any works until it is satisfied that such works are affordable and justified on risk management grounds.