New £5 million Oswestry A5 bridge to be redesigned after criticism from cyclists

A planned £5 million bridge over the A5 near Oswestry will be redesigned following criticism that it fails to cater adequately for cyclists.

The bridge is intended to give pedestrian and cycle access to the long-awaited Oswestry Innovation Park near Mile End Roundabout.

But the design has faced criticism from active travel campaigners who said it did not meet the latest government guidelines on cycle infrastructure by requiring cyclists to dismount, including ramps with 180-degree turns, and not providing segregated spaces for walkers and cyclists.

Oswestry’s Green Party mayor Duncan Kerr told a meeting of the town council’s planning committee on Wednesday evening that the proposals contravened local transport note (LTN) 1/20 – which Shropshire council voted in September to adopt.

Councillor Kerr said: “The council has just adopted this standard, and is clearly breaching that standard by building this bridge.

“This bridge has three 180-degree turns and is a five degree slope.

“I’m a keen cyclist and I wouldn’t push my bike to the top of that bridge and push it down the other side. I’d take my chances with the roundabout.

“If you’ve got an electric bike imagine trying to push that up those slopes and down, imagine trying to push a buggy or a bike with a trailer.

“LTN 1/20 is absolutely clear that cyclists and pedestrians shouldn’t be faced with such a major impediments and obstacles, they should have easy routes through.”

'White elephant'

Councillor Kerr said a better design was needed, or alternatively the bridge could be replaced by an underpass.

He added: “To spend £5 million on a bridge, which runs the risk of being a white elephant because it is so unusable that it’s going to sit there looking ugly and unloved, would be a shocking waste of tax payers’ money.

“It is a woeful attempt, late in the day, to try and reflect the needs of pedestrians and cyclists to get across from the place where they’re living to the potential place where we hope a lot of them will be working.

“Shropshire Council needs to go back to the drawing board and look again at the standards that it’s adopted and come up with a design that’s compliant.”

Councillor Sandy Best, who sits on the Future Oswestry Group along with representatives from Shropshire Council and the town’s Business Improvement District (BID), said the group had been told in a meeting earlier that day that the bridge design would be altered.

Councillor Kerr said: “I’m pleased to hear there is some second thought going on but as yet the application hasn’t been withdrawn so we can only comment on what’s in front of us.”

Despite their concerns, members held back from formally objecting to the planning application in its current form, saying they did not want to prevent the bridge being built as it was better than nothing.

The bridge will cross over a new stretch of the A5 off a secondary island to be constructed to the north east of Mile End roundabout, linking the B4579 Shrewsbury Road to the west with the proposed Innovation Park to the east.

The new roundabout, which was granted planning permission earlier this year, will see the existing A5 north exit off Mile End closed off.

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