Group wants ramped access for Spalding footbridge

Spalding's Stepingstones Bridge.
Spalding's Stepingstones Bridge.
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Spalding’s cycle action group, Pedals, claims plans to build new homes will scupper any future chance of a ramped access to Steppingstone Bridge.

The district council’s housing company, Welland Homes Ltd, wants to build on land off Parkside Crescent and its outline application goes to the planning committee tomorrow (Wednesday) with a recommendation of approval.

Pedals member Roger Smith said: “I think the outcome in planning permission terms is pretty inevitable as far as we are concerned but I think the council should draw breath before it says ‘yes’ for development going ahead.”

Pedals has asked the council to undertake a feasibility study in partnership with Network Rail and Lincolnshire County Council to determine the amount of land required for any “step-free” improvement of the bridge over the railway line – and actively investigate sources of funding for the work.

The action group says a ramp will make the bridge more accessible for cyclists as well as open it up to people pushing prams and wheelchairs.

Mr Smith accepts the council owns the land at Parkside Crescent but says there are many sites with planning consent and the authority could negotiate and build elsewhere.

But, he says, there won’t be a second chance to improve Steppingstone Bridge with houses in the way.

In a letter to council chief executive Anna Graves, Mr Smith says council decisions to permit new homes to the west and south-west of Spalding have resulted in more traffic to and from the town centre and across the town centre to schools, the sports complex and workplaces.

He says: “People with short journeys should be encouraged and enabled to cycle and walk for the good of their health, to reduce environmental pollution, and to reduce traffic congestion.”

Mr Smith argues that with more trains passing through, and level crossings closing more often, drivers are experiencing extra delays but a fully accessible Steppingstone Bridge would allow people on bikes or on foot to escape the congestion.

But Mrs Graves told the group in a letter: “At the current time, the council has no plans to earmark any of its land for the possible future replacement of Steppingstone Bridge.”

She said the council established Welland Homes to increase the housing supply to address demands and to meet the needs of a growing population while “also helping to boost growth in the local economy.”