A PROJECT to create a state of the art bridge linking Chippenham Station and the town centre is in line to receive £3 million of backing if it can win support from the town within the next few months.

Wiltshire Council put forward the proposal to Swindon and Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership at the end of September and received backing from its board.

But SWLEP director Paddy Bradley said this week that although £3 million is available the plan’s backers would have to move quickly to get planning permission and show support from the town as the Government funding is only available until March, 2021.

He said: “The project does not need to be finished by then but it will need to be started. It has the amber light at the moment from us but there is a lot of work to be done to turn that green.”

The idea for a bridge has been proposed a number of times in the past but arose again this summer after property developer Owen Inskip put forward a pre-planning application to turn his headquarters and neighbouring Oak Furnitureland opposite the station into serviced offices.

He says people he approached asked if the scheme could also include access for the new bridge and Wiltshire Council asked architect Rob Elkin, to come up with a design for the bridge which would be reached by path through Mr Inskip’s offices down to the Monkton Park council offices and then span the river to Island Park.

He took inspiration from a futuristic bridge at Westonbirt. Both Mr Inskip and Mr Elkin are directors of Chippenham Bid which was set up to promote the town.

If the project was to go ahead it could also pave the way for redevelopment of the back of Eagle One owned Emery Gate and the Wilko building, which is owned by Mr Inskip.

In a report to SWLEP Eagle One said: “Town centres can no longer expect people to visit them just to go shopping - you have to draw them in with other attractions and this bridge with its associated improvements to Island Park could do just that”

Wiltshire Council director Alistair Cunningham, said: “This proposal is at the ideas stage and if we were to go forward we would consult fully with Chippenham Town Council and the public and it would be subject to the usual planning process.”