York's Bridge

York's Bridge


Background

The existing York’s bridge, situated on Norton Road, Pelsall, adjacent to the Fingerpost public house, dates back to the mid 1800s. Its brick arch construction, poor alignments and lack of footways make it unsuitable for modern traffic and unsafe for pedestrians and cyclists. The bridge structure has suffered over recent decades and the bridge is currently the subject of a 10 tonne weight limit. If nothing is done the bridge will continue to weaken to the point where closure to all road traffic might have to be considered.

Existing York's Bridge 2012

The existing York's bridge, Pelsall

The bridge is owned by the Canal and River Trust (formerly British Waterways) and they do not have the financial resources to deal with the problem. Indeed, their only obligation is to maintain a bridge over the canal; they are not obliged to ensure it is suitable for the traffic requirements of the road.

The Council has a statutory duty to maintain the safe and efficient operation of the public highway for use by a range of vehicles. In order to discharge this duty, the Council is obliged to look at options including the strengthening of bridges which it does not own and the construction of new bridges if the original structures cannot be strengthened. Failure to undertake these options appraisals and deliver suitable solutions may result in the Department for Transport taking over the responsibility to deliver a suitable solution.

Scheme development

Options to strengthen the existing bridge have been considered but regrettably rejected as they could not ensure the bridge would conform to current design standards or address the issues associated with poor carriageway alignment. A new bridge is the only solution that will address the current problems associated with the existing bridge.

Early proposals included an option to build the new bridge on roughly the same alignment as the existing. There were a number of practical problems with this, including the need to close Norton Road for up to 18 months during construction. Initial feedback from the Pelsall area and from Ward councillors showed a strong desire to retain the existing bridge and this led to a rethink of the proposals.

The current scheme proposal is to construct a new bridge as close as possible to the existing. This means that the historic bridge can be retained but also means that Norton Road has to be realigned to meet the new bridge position.

Artist's impression of the proposed new bridge

Artist’s impression of the new bridge looking from the East.

Designs of the new bridge and highway are required to meet various national standards. A footway will be provided over the new bridge to improve pedestrian safety and the gradients of the road on the approaches to the bridge are slacker than existing to remove the ‘hump’ effect. The slacker gradients mean that the road levels either side of the new bridge will be higher than those on the current road alignment. Designers have taken what measures they can to reduce the impact of this without making the new road unsafe.

The obligation to follow national standards and to cater for all road users has informed the current design leaving little or no opportunity to alter the road alignment or layout.

You can view all the supporting information, including detailed plans under useful documents below. Further information is also included in our Frequently Asked Questions.

Scheme impact

Norton Road runs through the Pelsall North Common and registered common land lies to both sides of the existing road. Any alterations to the existing bridge will have some impact on the common and the local desire to retain the existing bridge means that a slightly increased area of common is affected.

The realignment of the road to the east and the localised raised road levels on the approaches will have some impact on properties in that area. The Council is keen to work with local residents to identify suitable measures to reduce any adverse impact.

The Council has taken specialist expert advice relating to the loss of common land and the effect on the ecology. Plans are in place to manage these issues and once ecology compensation measures are in place there will be little or no adverse impact.

Useful documents

Cover of Yorks Bridge Booklet

Frequently asked questions

Want more information? Read our frequently asked questions.

Principal Developments.

On 23 January 2013, the Council’s Cabinet approved that the scheme move from the design stages into consultation and delivery.

There are several steps to be taken before the scheme construction can start, the key ones of which are:

1. Scheme consultation

Consultation on the scheme was carried out during March and April 2013 based on the proposals set out in the consultation booklet. There was some lively debate at the drop-in events with a variety of views being expressed on the comments form.

Although generally supportive of the need for a new bridge the strength of views relating to the positioning of the new structure meant that officers decided to review the original proposal and drew up an alternative which positioned the bridge further to the west. After careful consideration and weighing of the affects of both options on local residents and the wider public and business community a report was taken back to Cabinet on 24 July 2013.

Cabinet approved that the bridge be kept in the position originally proposed, i.e. the same location that featured in the consultation.

2. Planning consent

A planning application for the scheme was submitted on 9 September 2013 following which consultations were carried out in accordance with national guidelines. After due deliberation, a recommendation was taken to planning committee on the 16 January 2014 where approval to the scheme was given. After seeking final comment from Natural England the formal Decision Notice was issued on 7 February 2014 granting permission subject to conditions.

During the planning meeting committee members expressed a wish for ongoing consultation with local residents to see what measures can be taken to help mitigate the effect of the new scheme. Residents will be contacted on these matters in due course. Concerns were also expressed about the condition of the canal towpath in the vicinity of the bridges. Improvements have been agreed with the Canal and River Trust and will be implemented as part of the scheme.

3.  Bridge Order

Where a proposed new bridge crosses a navigable waterway the developer is required to submit a Bridge Order. This is intended to safeguard the use of the waterway by boats etc. Since the Wyrley and Essington Canal is navigable the Council has prepared a Bridge Order in accordance with the Highways Act. The Bridge Order was published on Thursday 13 February 2014 with the notice being published in the local press.

You can view the Bridge Order documentation by following these links.

4. Deregistration of common land

Before work can start on site the Council has to apply for the affected parts of the common to be deregistered. The application is considered by the Planning Inspectorate and the process includes a period for objections.

As part of the deregistration process the Council is expected to provide exchange land to mitigate the loss of registered common. Moat Farm pool was originally identified early in the development of the scheme and formed part of this exchange land offered. In addition to the pool a strip of land to the east of Norton Road, south of the canal was also offered as common. The registration of this exchange land would give added protection for these areas against any future development. The total area of land to be registered as common land will be greater than the total area of land to be permanently deregistered. Plans showing details of the exchange land are included in the original deregistration application form link shown below.

The application documents were submitted to the Planning Inspectorate and the deregistration application was published on Thursday 2 October 2014 in the local press.

4.1 Outcome of the deregistration application.

The Planning Inspector issued their decision on 12 May 2015 and it can be viewed on the National Archive’s website here: http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20150612123823/http://www.planningportal.gov.uk/uploads/pins/

common_land/decision/com626_decision.pdf

In essence the application to deregister common land was turned down for two particular reasons.

a) That the registration of the replacement land, offered as common land, would not especially benefit the community as there was already unrestricted public access to it.

b) There was no legal process in place to “temporarily” deregister common land and as such the entire amount of land had to be considered as if it were to be permanently deregistered.

This decision obviously prevents the Council from building the new bridge. Consideration is currently being given as to how the Council should now proceed. It should be remembered that the condition of the existing brick bridge continues to deteriorate and the Council may need to introduce further restrictions to its continued use.

5. Construction

Only once all of the above steps are completed and the necessary approvals obtained can work start on the ground. Because some of the processes are out of our control, the start date cannot be tightly defined at this stage.

Construction could take up to 18 months, the largest part of which will be the building of the new bridge and retaining walls. During this period Norton Road will remain open to traffic and access to properties will be maintained.

Contact us

If you require any further information please contact:

John Roseblade

Group Manager (Highways and Environment)
Walsall Council
Civic Centre
Darwall Street
Walsall
WS1 1DG .

Telephone 01922 654391
Email YorksBridge@walsall.gov.uk

This page was last updated on 03 November 2016