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On track for ‘ugly’ bridge
Long-awaited plans to replace the footbridge and install a lift at Chippenham Railway Station may yet be set back as the renovations were condemned as ugly.
Chris Caswill, councillor for the area, and the Chippenham Civic Society say that while they welcome the developments, the design is not impressive enough for the area.
Coun Caswill has asked for the designs to be looked at again in the Northern Area Planning Committee on February 22, when they may be approved or rejected by councillors.
But for Coun Maureen Lloyd, who has been fighting for the renovations since 1996, the changes are more necessary than ever.
“There is nothing uglier than the current footbridge,” she said.
“We have been working for this for too long to let this go. I am extremely concerned that this is going to be called in to the committee at the eleventh hour. I want to make the call for anyone who is affected by having to walk over the footbridge to get to a platform to come to the meeting in support. People should be coming in their hundreds to support the developments. Let’s show them that real people need this lift now.”
Coun Lloyd, who is the chair of Chippenham Transport for the Disabled, administrator for Pensioner’s Voice Chippenham and secretary for Chippenham Age Concern, as well as being part of other groups in the town, established the Chippenham Accessible Rail Transport group in 2007 after elderly and disabled rail users complained about the poor facilities at the station.
She said: “I do a lot of travelling through the station myself, and I often get off at Bath and get the bus back to Chippenham when I have heavy luggage, and I’m perfectly fit and healthy.
“It’s ridiculous – why should people who can’t manage the stairs have to be treated differently to anyone else?”
However, treasurer and membership secretary of the civic society Roger Backway said there are concerns about the new designs of the bridge.
“Everyone welcomes the provision of lifts at the station,” he said.
“But it is important that the design is in keeping with the station, which is a beautiful building designed by Brunel. The new footbridge has the appearance of a cheap brutalist structure more like a prison with watchtowers than a bridge with lifts.”
The civic society say they would prefer a light, airy structure made of stainless steel with glass lifts.
Coun Caswill said: “The proposal is ugly.
“The present footbridge is a disaster, but this proposal does not make any improvements to that. Of course, we are all very keen to get it done. This lift is long overdue, and it’s frankly scandalous that the station doesn’t have one, but it’s no excuse for producing something that looks like Meccano.”
To view the plans for the footbridge, visit www.wiltshire.gov.uk/ planninganddevelopment/ and use application number 11/03798.