WORK is due to start soon on the “missing link” at Longrun Meadow country park in Taunton – the footbridge over the River Tone.
This is the vital link to complete a riverside path without steps forming a disabled-friendly access for the miles from Firepool Lock to the Silk Mills Park and Ride.
The Taunton Deane Borough Council project has been in the pipeline for a while but was delayed due to land ownership issues, erosion of the river bank and the need to secure a fresh planning consent when the location of the bridge had to be changed.
Now the problems are being overcome after working with the landowner and colleagues from Somerset County Council – planning permission was granted last month – and the start date is being finalised.
Importantly, the bridge will link Silk Mills and Longrun Meadow and is the third in a set of three providing links into the country park to provide easy accessibility for the many people who enjoy the open space.
Work is due to start in early September following the decision to appoint a construction team to undertake the work subject to contracts following detailed agreement on access arrangements. The decision is subject to the five-day call-in period and during this time it is anticipated all necessary permissions for construction to proceed will be in place.
The bridge will is made from traditional materials to match the existing and to fit in with the country park setting and it should be completed by the autumn this year.
Work can only start after the end of August under planning conditions set to minimise disturbance to wildlife.
Cllr Mark Edwards, Deputy Leader of the council, said: “I am delighted that this long awaited bridge will be in place before too long. There were delays – largely due to circumstances beyond our control – and that is always frustrating.
“But we have successfully negotiated all the major hurdles and I hope that, once in place, the bridge will be well used by people who enjoy spending time in Longrun Meadow. It’s a tremendous asset for Taunton – a country park close to the heart of the town.
“The park also plays an important role in protecting Taunton from flooding as it acts as a large storage area for excess water and has more than proved its worth in recent years.”