Merton Council’s Planning Committee granted permission for a new bridge to be built over the River Wandle in Bishopsford Road, Mitcham, at a meeting held last night (Thursday 22 October).
The new bridge will replace the previous structure, which had to be demolished for safety reasons earlier this year, after partially collapsing in June 2019, following heavy rainfall.
Replacing the bridge is a particularly complex task because it influences river flow and has a range of utilities running through its structure. The council has been working closely with gas, electricity, water and broadband providers, as well as the Environment Agency, to reduce the risk of flooding.
The river crossing, along the A217, will be wider than the previous bridge, to include a northbound segregated cycle lane and a wider shared southbound pavement and cycle space. The new design, which has a single span, rather than three arches like the old bridge, was developed following a public consultation earlier this year. Railings will replace the brick wall along Ravensbury Park, opening up views from the bridge and 26 new trees will be planted. The wooden footbridge crossing will remain.
The plans will also help to promote biodiversity in the river and on its banks, which border Watermeads Nature Reserve, and include bat boxes and a ledge for otters.
Work on rebuilding the bridge is due to begin next month and is expected to open in 2021.
Merton Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Housing and Transport, Councillor Martin Whelton, said: “The new bridge will result in significantly improved infrastructure and the granting of planning permission will enable us to get on with the job and get this vital crossing re-opened at the earliest opportunity.
“We know many residents and businesses have been impacted by its closure and we will be working closely with our partners to safely build a new bridge which meets modern standards along with enhanced provision for cycling and pedestrians. I look forward to seeing the new bridge re-open and working with the community on delivering this key infrastructure as construction gets underway.”