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Further details on footbridges closure released

10 January 2024

Following the closure of three public footbridges at Cuckoos Hollow in Werrington, Peterborough City Council is releasing further details about why this decision was taken. 

The council announced on Friday that the bridges, adjacent to Baron Court, Lakeside and Welbourne, have deteriorated much more quickly than anticipated and are now posing a risk to public safety, resulting in a decision to close the structures for the foreseeable future.

Since this announcement, the council has received several questions from members of the public and would like to re-iterate that the decision was taken following independent advice, with the authority mindful of its duty of public safety.

The normal inspection regime for bridges is every two years and the last general inspection of the footbridges at Cuckoos Hollow identified signs of degradation. At this time, inspection frequency was increased and in the last three months this was increased further to weekly inspections.

The inspections identified rotting to the to the main structural members of the bridges, including the main longitudinal beams, transverse beams and the bracing timbers for the deck planks and the parapets. A reasonable amount of the deterioration has occurred on the underside of the structures, which is not visible from the bridge decks and the rotting has compromised the load carrying capacity of the bridges. Whilst it is evident that the structures currently have enough capacity to support their own weight, the rotting has impaired their ability to support pedestrian loading.

Cllr Gavin Elsey, Cabinet Member for Infrastructure, Environment and Climate Change, said: “The level of deterioration currently exceeds any margin of safety that would have been incorporated in the original bridge design. This will eventually mean that the structures have insufficient capacity to carry the loads applied to it, creating a risk of collapse.

“The bridges are now at the point where they are presenting an unreasonable public health and safety risk, hence why we took the decision to close them. It is not possible to say when a collapse might happen, however, given the rate of deterioration, our utmost priority is to maintain public safety and remove pedestrian access.”

The bridges had already been identified for replacement in the 2024/2025 financial year and early designs and construction surveys have already commenced.

The council is currently investigating options for temporary repairs that would allow the bridges to be used prior the installation of the new structures, however, the deterioration is significant in many areas and the cost of temporary repairs is likely to be prohibitive.

The replacement of the bridges is our highest priority and work programmes are being adjusted accordingly. The design of the new structures is reasonably well developed, and we anticipate the construction of the new structures will start in Summer/ Autumn 2024.

As the designs are not yet complete, we are unable to share any specific detail about the new structures at present. However, we can clarify that the new bridges will be wider than the current structures and improve accessibility for the users of Cuckoos Hollow.

Although it is not possible to open any of the bridges in their current condition, Cuckoos Hollow is still fully accessible by foot/bicycle and suitable alternative routes are available.