White Bridge Link - Latest News (October)
The footbridge over the River Adur just north of Bramber Bridge was closed in late August, after a safety inspection by West Sussex County Council. Known as the White Bridge, the bridge is a key connecting route for walkers. So its closure has been a big concern and inconvenience for everyone who uses it, especially children getting to and from school.
It has also been a setback for the White Bridge Link project, which was well down the track in developing plans to upgrade the path on each side of the bridge to create a new, improved, all-weather route between Steyning, Bramber and Upper Beeding suitable for cyclists, walkers and mobility vehicles.
The White Bridge Link Working Party has been keeping close tabs on what’s been happening since. It has been liaising with the three local Parish Councils, Horsham District Council and the County Council, to stress the importance of the bridge to the local community and underline the urgency of getting it back in action. Here’s an update on the story so far and what the future looks like.
Why the Bridge was closed
The bridge is inspected periodically by WSCC to check for wear and tear. On a recent inspection this summer, extensive corrosion was discovered on the steel trusses that form the main framework of the bridge, and on the outriggers that support the large gas and water pipes attached on each side. In addition, cracks were observed in the concrete foundations that the bridge sits on.
Built in 1903, the bridge is clearly showing it’s age. The County Council took the difficult decision that it had to be closed immediately to avoid safety risks. They have concluded that it cannot be repaired and needs to be replaced entirely, which will be a big and expensive job.
This photo from the WSCC inspection report shows the extent of the corrosion.
What happens next?
It is reassuring to hear from the County Council that they are treating the bridge replacement as high priority. However it is taking time to scope out the work needed, partly because of the complexity of the job and the need to liaise with counterparts in the gas company (the water main is no longer in use).
Topographical and ground surveys are being commissioned, and landowners have been approached and are supportive of the bridge replacement. But it is too early for the Council to set to a date for when work will begin. The indications are that it will be a least a year before a new bridge is in place.
It means the White Bridge Link project is on hold for now. The Working Party is continuing with fundraising efforts and is working closely with the County and District Councils to make sure the new bridge is suitably designed for both bikes and walkers. Parish Councils are also keeping the pressure on.
We know it will be popular when the new bridge does get built. An online survey conducted over the summer showed there is strong demand from local users - walkers, cyclists, wheelchair and pushchair users. Nearly three quarters of respondents said they’d use the path more than they do now if it was improved, and a similar number said they would consider contributing to a crowdfunding campaign to cover part of the costs.
So while it’s a major inconvenience for now, there are good prospects that we will end up with a better bridge and a much-improved path in the media term. We’ll keep you posted.
The White Bridge Link Working Party was established by Steyning and District Community Partnership. You can find out the latest on the project at: www.visitsteyning.org/whitebridgelink
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Next Parish Council Meeting: 20th December
A Councillor's Lament
There once was a bollard in Bramber,
It was black not yellow or amber,
It got smashed by a bus,
Causing chaos and fuss,
And created a whole lot of anger!
Words by: ChatGPT (guided by Paul Richards)
Photos by: Dave Kitson & Mike Croker
Damage by: You know who you are!
Bramber - A Snapshot
Bramber parish is a rural area in the lee of the South Downs, located inland from Shoreham-by-Sea and extending to some 1770 acres. Much of the land is actively farmed and ranges from flood plain to upland on to the South Downs. There is a natural boundary to the East in the river Adur which separates the village from Upper Beeding. The southern side is wholly rural and joins farms in the parish of Coombes, elsewhere the boundaries mingle with Steyning. Part of the parish falls within the newly created South Downs National Park. The Parish Council works closely with the Parishes of Upper Beeding and Steyning in matters of mutual interest.
There are four identifiable residential areas: Bramber village, which is a single linear street (originally a causeway) and still contains listed buildings; Maudlyn Park, largely a post-war housing development accommodating the majority of the parish's population and the two picturesque hamlets of Annington and Botolphs.
Historically the area has been populated for well over a 1000 years. It is recorded that the village developed along a trade route from Cornwall through to Kent and the Continent; had strong Saxon links and by 959 St Botolph's church had been built. Bramber castle and the church followed in 1073.
The villages contain buildings of considerable historical interest such as the Saxon church at Botolphs, Bramber Castle, which is cared for by English Heritage, St Nicholas Church, the oldest Norman Church in the county, and the 15th century former pilgrims rest at St Mary’s House. St. Mary's still attracts great interest and, through the efforts of the current owners and volunteers, the house and gardens have been restored to their former glory and numerous events are held throughout the year.
Whilst farming remains an important aspect of the local economy, there is also light industry in an industrial estate in Annington. There are no shops in the village but there is a pub (the Castle Hotel), the 38 bedroom Old Tollgate Hotel and Indian and Chinese restaurants. Tourism is still a major attraction to the area, which is criss-crossed by many footpaths and bridleways, including the Monarchs Way, the Downs Link and the South Downs Way.
Local interests are well catered for by the Parish Council and a social group called the Bramber Society. It organises various activities which bring residents together - talks, village cleanups, celebrations, arranging floral decorations through the village and Christmas carols and decorations. The village also has links with several specialised interest groups.
Schools, health services and local shops are provided from the neighbouring villages of Steyning and Upper Beeding.
Parish Boundary (click for larger image)
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Street Map (click for larger image) - Out of date!