CONTROVERSIAL plans to build a footbridge over a section of railway line in Branston are set to go ahead, after they were approved by a planning inspector.
Proposals for the stepped bridge, which will link Old Road and Warren Lane, were turned down by councillors in Burton, who said it would be a magnet for anti-social behaviour.
But their fears were not considered substantial enough to stand in the way of Network Rail’s plans, and permission for the bridge was granted.
The inspector said: “Whilst the fear of crime and some disturbance in the locality cannot be excluded as a potential consequence of the proposed development, it would be far outweighed by the benefits in terms of safety, community cohesion and the convenience of its users.”
Hundreds of people expressed their support for the bridge by signing a petition last year.
Peter Yates, of Snowdon’s Newsagents, which ran the petition: “The bridge is necessary for the safety of children.”
He told the Mail he was worried that the current lack of footbridge would push children onto the main road bridge, which only has a narrow pavement.
Councillor Patricia Ackroyd, who represents Branston on East Staffordshire Borough Council is concerned about the ‘dangerous’ road bridge, but said she thought money should be invested in improving it, rather than putting up a new structure.
“Every time I drive over it I fear for the children. It’s such a narrow pathway. I would have preferred to see money spend on that, as the footbridge is only going to be helpful to a small number of people,” she told the Mail, adding that residents have genuine concerns about a rise in anti-social behaviour.
The need for the bridge has been hotly debated for some time.
The track was initially home to a level crossing, but after it was highlighted as a danger spot, Network Rail put a footbridge in place. But the work was completed without planning permission, and so the company was made to tear it down.
Since then, the road bridge has been the only way to cross the line.
A spokesman for Network Rail said: “We are very pleased this permission has been granted. We are working with our teams and the local authority to develop a construction programme which will be published as soon as it is available.”