Brownhills gets stunning new canal bridge
Date Published : 17 November 2006
Walsall Council has joined forces with British Waterways to build a new bridge spanning the canal in Brownhills – helping to improve access for disabled people to an important district centre.
The £445,000 bridge will link Brownhills town centre with neighbouring communities such as Clayhanger, via Clayhanger Common, an area of valuable open space, designated as a Site of Local Importance for Nature Conservation or ‘SLINC’.
Whilst providing easy access to anyone with mobility problems, the striking structure has been designed to impact as little as possible on the plants and animals of Clayhanger Common.
The innovative bridge will provide better access to the Brownhills town centre as part of a package of regeneration initiatives including British Waterways’ new canoe centre at Brownhills, as well as continuing the regeneration of this important district centre.
Most of the funding is coming from the European Regional Development Fund, with Walsall Council contributing £106,000 to the project, which replaces an old bridge that provides no access for disabled people.
Councillor Adrian Andrew, Cabinet member for regeneration, said: “This new bridge will provide much-needed access for people with mobility problems and is key to the ongoing regeneration of Brownhills district centre.
“District centres are a priority for Walsall Council and we are committed to revitalising them. This new bridge is a great example of how we are working with partners like British Waterways to improve the quality of life for borough residents.”
Preparatory work on the site is expected to start before Christmas, with the bridge being manufactured in sections off site. It will then be installed in April - the prefabricated manufacturing process meaning it will ‘appear’ on site almost overnight.
Walsall Council officers have carried out consultation on the project with a number of community groups, including Brownhills Canal Group and Brownhills & Aldridge North Local Neighbourhood Partnership.
John Harris, economic and social development manager for British Waterways said: “We are delighted to be a part of this exciting project which will greatly improve access to the local canal network.
“It is the latest stage in a programme of improvement works we have been involved in in this area and we hope the community take full advantage of it.”
The new bridge will be transported to Brownhills by lorry and lifted onto site by crane. It is expected to be open to the public in the summer, but the existing footbridge will be kept open throughout the construction process.
Councillor Alan Paul, local neighbourhood partnership chairman, said: “Brownhills is really going places and this new bridge will make it easier for Clayhanger residents to get into Brownhills town centre.
“The new health centre and library on the site of the old council house are already benefiting local people. The council working with British Waterways has spent £4 million on the borough’s canals, including extensive works in the Brownhills and Aldridge area.
“There are new shops opening on the High Street and, of course, we now have our fantastic miner statue. There is really a lot happening in Brownhills.”