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Finchingfield Bridge future plans - December 2021 update


13/12/2021
Latest News

On Wednesday 24 November 2021, Essex Highways received a pre-application response from the Planning Service within Essex County Council. 

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Future plans for Finchingfield Bridge

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Finchingfield Bridge carries the B1053 over the village pond. It is an old bridge, approximately 200 years old in a deteriorating condition that needs to be dismantled and rebuilt.

Information event

Members of the public were invited to an information event held on Thursday 1 October 2020 at Finchingfield Guildhall to meet and discuss our future proposals for Finchingfield Bridge with our Structures team, and to share feedback.

Topics for discussion included:

  • Current plans, including replacement bridge design and material choices
  • Proposals relating to the installation of a temporary vehicle crossing across the village green and watercourse, and reinstatement works
  • Estimated project timelilne. 

We would like to extend our thanks to everyone who was able to come along to our event, it was a pleasure to meet you all.  For anyone who was unable to attend our event, further details on our current proposals are outlined below, along with some Questions and Answers on our proposals.

To share your feedback on future proposals, please contact either Finchingfield Parish Council, or Essex Highways by email.

 

Our plans

Watch our visual demonstration as to how the new proposed bridge will look once constructed.

We will continue to work closely with Finchingfield Parish Council throughout this process.

The new Finchingfield Bridge

  • Our intention is to dismantle the existing structure and replace the bridge with one built in the same location with a very similar look to the existing bridge.
  • It is proposed that the current width between the bridge walls will be maintained between new kerbs and a narrow hardened verge to offer some protection to the bridge parapets.
  • These proposals will lead to a bridge that will be up to 1.5 metres wider overall, but maintaining the same road width, so that the bridge continues to act as a traffic calming feature.
  • There are no plans to include a footway as part of the project.
Plan of existing bridge including cross view of northern and southern elevation
General arrangement of existing bridge
Plan of proposed new bridge including diagrams at carriageway/pond levels
General arrangement of proposed bridge
Plans to show cross section of existing and proposed new bridge
Cross section view of existing and proposed bridge

Technical details

Section through proposed bridge
  • The proposed new bridge will benefit from narrow verges which offer protection to the parapets and the Greedy Duck. This is an essential improvement to the cross section of the bridge.
  • The proposed width between kerbs is slightly narrower than the current width between parapets. This has been introduced to provide smooth lines approaching and passing over the structure. The verges will be 0.6m for the North and a minimum of 0.4m for the South parapets. This will offer some protection to the parapets and adjacent building from impact by vehicles.
  • The presence of the new verge requires the lifting of the parapet by 155mm to provide the minimum height above the carriageway.
  • The elevation concrete shall feature in the proposed new bridge. The original cast iron pattress plates shall be refurbished and retained.
  • Butresses shall be constructed to the same dimensions as the existing. These and brickwork elsewhere on the proposed structure shall be constructed in the handmade Olde Horsham bricks.
  • The interior of the new bridge shall be finished in smooth concrete, this will match the existing Southern Elevation.

Temporary vehicle crossing

Plan of temporary vehicle crossing road layout
  • Trial hole investigations were carried out in late October 2019 to determine the precise location and depth of utility services in and around the village green areas.
  • The investigation works have shown that it is feasible to install a temporary vehicle crossing across the village green. We continue to explore this as an option with the Parish Council.
  • As part of the temporary crossing option, various planning approvals will be required for the use of the village green areas.
 

Finchingfield Bridge – Questions and Answers (October 2020)

Select a question to reveal/hide the answer:

It is an old bridge, some elements approximately 200 years old in a deteriorating condition. The bridge is also weak and cannot be strengthened to sustain the required loading. It is regularly struck by passing vehicles due to its narrow construction. These factors have been considered in opting to pursue reconstruction.

Once the final bridge design has been formalised and a contractor has been appointed for the works, we will have a better indication of construction timescales. In the meantime we are considering road closure of between six and nine months.

As reported in 2018, the intention is to dismantle the existing structure and replace the bridge with one built in the same location with a very similar look to the existing bridge.  We anticipate reinforced concrete will be used in the core construction of the bridge, but with brickwork cladding installed to offer an outward appearance similar to the existing structure.  

It is proposed the current width between the bridge walls will be maintained between new kerbs and a narrow hardened verge to offer some protection to the bridge parapets. These proposals will lead to a bridge that will be up to 1.5 metres wider overall, but maintaining the same road width, so that the bridge continues to act as a traffic calming feature.

At this stage we have obtained sufficient information to complete a new bridge design and have no current plans to close the bridge for further investigations.

Essex Highways will identify locations where their site compound/facilities can be located to ensure we minimise disruption to the local area as much as is reasonably practicable. However, it is likely that the areas of village green will be utilised.

Once a contractor has been appointed for the works, we will seek professional advice on how best to deal with this issue. It could be possible, that areas of the village green and features within it could be removed and stored safely, before being reinstalled once the works have been completed, like we did in October 2019.

There are no plans to include a footway as part of the project.

Trial hole investigations were carried out in late October 2019 to determine the precise location and depth of utility services in and around the village green areas. The investigation works have shown that it is technically feasible to install a temporary vehicle crossing across the village green. We continue to explore this as an option with the Parish Council.

As part of the temporary crossing option, various planning approvals will be required for the use of the village green areas.

This has not yet been decided, however it is something that members of the community can influence. We will continue to work closely with the Parish Council, to establish what material the community would prefer. Feedback from the recent public information event was that granite setts or cobbles may be preferred.

No and this is one reason why the hard standing areas will remain narrow in width. The hard standing areas have been introduced to protect the bridge parapets.

Our intention is to use the same bricks that were used in August 2020 when the parapet repairs were completed. These bricks are a close match in texture and colour to the bricks that were used to build the original bridge, some 200 years ago.

Yes, however the use of pre-fabricated materials will depend on how other construction complexities are resolved. Where possible, pre-fabricated materials will be used in efforts to reduce the overall construction programme

We will work with local stakeholders to try and minimise the impact on businesses and residents by completing the work without delays. However, when a highway authority or statutory undertaker carries out works under its statutory powers or duties, it is not liable to pay compensation for loss of trade. Traders have no right to any particular level of passing trade: business may fluctuate for a number of reasons.

Highway works benefit the whole community, including businesses and others who, while they might be adversely affected in the short-term, will benefit in the long-term. The highways authority has a statutory obligation to maintain the highway to a reasonable standard for the benefit of all road users.

We will continue to post updates about our proposals on both this and our Finchingfield Bridge, B1053, Finchingfield webpage.

Please check the Document Section at the bottom of the webpages where supplementary information will be published as it becomes available.

Details will also be shared with local parish councils about future works.

To share your feedback on future proposals please contact either Finchingfield Parish Council, or Essex Highways by email.

For details about other works in the area you can visit one.network, or follow the Essex Highways twitter feed: @essexhighways.

Finchingfield Parish Council Questions and Answers (August 2022)

Five contractors were originally approached with a view to determining their interest to tender for the work at Finchingfield. Of these, two were taken forward to competitive tender for the design element of the work. The contract was awarded to Jackson and we are currently agreeing the programme, following which the website will be updated with key dates amongst other information.

The Open Spaces society were consulted in March 2021. They advised that they would consult their local members and after a short period of time responded that they did not have any comments to make, at that time.

We anticipate submission of the planning application in September and would expect a decision before the end of the year, 2022.

We have experienced some delays to the programme during the course of the year and now do not expect to be on site before June 2023.

Permissions include; Planning Permission, De-registration of the Village Green Areas, EA, licencing of land from third parties.

The planning application is in progress and is expected to be issued in September 2022.

  • The De-Registration application will shortly be issued to the PC’s solicitors for their review and recommendation to the PC for acceptance/signature.
  • With respect to the licencing, we have had early conversations and agreed in principle areas for licencing with certain third parties, however, are hoping to limit the amount of land licencing required by improved working practices. We should have received updated Site Plans from our Supplier, Jackson, in September, following which we will commence land negotiations.

There is a need to determine the extent of the foundations to the retaining wall above the pond to the East of the bridge. The need from this stems from the approach to the temporary support of the Greedy Duck building. This investigation has not been done previously. This is currently in planning, however, it requires an Environment Agency Flood Risk Activity Environmental Permit and this will take some time to obtain. We do not now expect to be on site in October.

In addition, we will need to determine the ground conditions along the soft areas of the temporary carriageway, this includes the green and pond. We will require permission from the Parish Council for this. This work will also feature in the Flood Risk Activity Environmental Permit.

Overall, we expect to need to be within the carriageway at the bridge for up to two days.

We will determine with the Parish Council a sensible approach to stakeholder feedback and engagement. We currently envisage, to tie in with the web site update, a letter drop to the Parish.

Further key points where letters will be sent or web updates will be made;

  • Planning Decision
  • Plans to build trial brick panels for viewing
  • Once final design drawings are ready
  • Once construction programme is fully developed, key milestones will be shared.

Taken from FAQ’s 2020 Q1 above.

It is an old bridge, some elements approximately 200 years old in a deteriorating condition. The bridge is also weak and cannot be strengthened to sustain the required loading. It is regularly struck by passing vehicles due to its narrow construction. These factors have been considered in opting to pursue reconstruction.

We feel we have a strong case for the benefits of the temporary crossing, however, are not the authority determining the planning application. We do not know how likely the decision to support it will be.

The planning authority may decide that this is the case and reject the application.

We do not consider this necessary, or enforceable.

The river fluming is still in design. The design will ensure that flooding of upstream properties does not occur as a consequence of the measures to control the river flows. There will be a management plan in place during the work which will include contingency planning for use in the event of a flood event.

Yes, once we have agreed the programme for the design, regular parish, business and community updates will be published.

We intend to explore the need for archaeological digs. At tender, there were two defined hold points in the scheme for archaeological investigations. However, pending the planning response, we will consider further investigations within the village green areas.

We employed an Archaeologist during previous excavations at the bridge, findings were given to the Guild Hall Museum following this work. A similar approach will be followed.

Please explain this point.

All environmental impact assessments affecting Parish Council property will be shared.

As you have stated, the essence of the temporary pond crossing is to maintain the single lane flow of traffic over the road in a similar fashion to that of the existing bridge.

However, with the removal of the bend and hump of the existing bridge, it is important that the speed of traffic is controlled as it uses the temporary crossing. And whilst various method of speed reduction / traffic calming have been considered, the best solution is the use of “intelligent” traffic signals, with the distance between the signals being kept to a minimum (as this will give the maximum flow of vehicles, with the minimum delay / queues).

These intelligent signals should ensure that approaching traffic only see a red light, which causes them to slow down, which then changes to green as they near the signals (as long as nothing is coming the other way) and then back to red once the vehicles have gone. These signals will also adjust the amount of green time to suit the volume of traffic travelling in each direction.

The temporary carriageway running past Brick House shall be a minimum of 3.3m away from the railings of the property, this will widen as the road travels west. This is substantially further away from the road than is already experienced by properties further up Church Hill.

With respect to pedestrians, the width available to pedestrian will be similar to that currently available along Bridge Street, once parked cars are considered. However, there will be barriers segregating the public from the vehicles which will also offer protection.

With respect to the arrangement shown on Drg. No. BR0026-00-0913 (the 2015 drawing referenced). This was an early arrangement which had not benefited from the fine tuning that the current proposal has. Sight lines and current standards were not considered in depth for instance and fell short of standard for vehicles driving West from Church Hill. This earlier arrangement would have required the widening of the traffic signals to include the B1057 from the North, requiring three-way signals and resulting in longer queues and greater loss of parking for the nearby residents. In addition to these factors, the level differences would have required a higher carriageway level crossing of the pond which would not be consented to by the Environment Agency. They have indicated that higher levels could increase potential flood risk. As with many things, the design of the temporary crossing of the pond has been reviewed in the time since the earlier outlines were prepared with a view to improving end user safety. We consider the current arrangement to be a well-considered proposal which offers the safest solution to the problem of closing the road above the existing Finchingfield bridge.

Taken from FAQ’s 2020 Q13 above.

We will work with local stakeholders to try to minimise the impact on businesses and residents by completing the work without delays. However, when a highway authority or statutory undertaker carries out works under its statutory powers of duties, it is not liable to pay compensation for loss of trade. Traders have no right to any particular level of passing trade: business may fluctuate for a number of reasons.

Highway works benefit the whole community, including businesses and others who, while they might be adversely affected in the short term, will benefit in the long term. The highways authority has a statutory obligation to maintain the highway to a reasonable standard for the benefit of all road users.

We are currently considering the introduction of granite setts on the verges.

Photograph below is similar in appearance to our intention. The surface will be uneven and the mortar joints recessed as shown.

No. However, during our meeting there was significant discussion/concern raised by the PC regarding the large vehicles which pass through the village and that this might become more of a problem during the scheme. We have agreed to consider the viability of diverting large vehicles away from the site, however note that this may not be enforceable and could have wider impacts than the large through traffic mentioned.

The temporary crossing of the pond will feature a series of pipes with road construction above them. The solution has been selected to minimise the height of the road level, reducing flood risk.

We have considered different options with regards the Greens, core amongst this is their appearance and availability for use following the work. We have already investigated and identified the species of grass within the Greens and are planning to further investigate with a view of growing new turf off site.

We had considered lifting the existing turf, caring for it whilst the works are underway and re-lifting, however it was not considered viable. The concern being that the turf would not survive lifting for the second time.

We currently plan to replace all affected turf to the design specification and will be discussing with the Parish Council whether to widen this to include the whole of the Green west of the pond. Noted in the meeting that a view from the PC would be to see how it looks and take a view on the situation.

We will be. Once we go live with the coming web update, letters to the Finchingfield Parish, we will then write to the other nearby parishes.