South Kesteven District Council approves plan by Bellway Homes to build 373 homes on the Elsea Park estate in Bourne and demolish Bridge 234
Pleas to save a historic bridge from demolition have failed after planning permission was granted for the final stage of development at Elsea Park.
Bellway Homes will build 373 properties on land between Harvey Close and Wincanton Way in Bourne.
Campaigners had called for a bridge within the site to be saved, but their 1,000-name petition failed to sway members of South Kesteven District Council’s planning committee at a meeting on Wednesday.
After a lengthy debate, members voted to approve the application.
They added a condition that Bellway will have to carry out wildlife surveys, including on bats that live at the site, before being able to carry out any work including demolition.
Now campaigners say they have been “left in limbo” after Wednesday’s meeting, saying that the lengthy debate over adding conditions to the application left them confused.
Steve Giullari, from Bourne History Group, said after the meeting: “I don’t know where we stand now until we hear from the planning committee on exactly what was agreed.
“While the bridge is still standing, I’m continuing.”
Steve was among those who spoke out in favour of retaining the bridge during the meeting.
Amendments were added to the 14 conditions attached to the planning approval that no work can be done “above ground” before certain conditions are met.
These will have to be looked at by a planning officer and councillors will have the opportunity to “call in” that decision. Steve hopes that members of the planning committe, who had said they would do this, will follow up on that promise.
Steve also argued that many of the signatories of the petition were local to Bourne after the chairman of the Elsea Park Community Trust Jono Brough said during the meeting that it was shared nationally and had been supported by railway enthusiasts.
Mr Brough said the final phase of development will allow footpaths and cycleways to be completed on the estate.
He said: “The trust is in full support of the plan. It brings the best outcome for residents of Elsea Park.”
The homes will be built on zone seven of Elsea Park, which is the final area to be developed.
Planning officer Phil Jordan highlighted the benefits the estate has already brought to the town, including the Raymond Mays Way link road, Elsea Park Primary School and extra land to allow building work at Bourne Grammar School.
As a compromise, Bellway Homes has agreed to create a tribute to Bridge 234 within the site.
Speaking on behalf of the firm, David Fletcher said the play area will have railway themed equipment and the piazza will include materials from the bridge
It is also proposed to name the park after Charles Stansfield Wilson, an engineer who supervised work on the railway line from Saxby to Bourne.
The ideas were suggested by MP Gareth Davies (Con) in a bid to preserve some of the town’s history.
He said: “While clearly the bridge is in an extremely poor condition after over 60 years without repair, I believe that it is right that we recognise the significance of Bridge 234 as a local landmark which represents Bourne’s special role in the fantastic Age of Steam.
“I appreciate Bellway’s plan to preserve the bridge’s footprint by using reclaimed bricks to construct a piazza. However, I proposed additional measures to go further to help preserve the historical significance of the site.”
Councillors also added a condition that the developer will have to supply details of the new park before it can start work.
Eight councillors voted in favour of the development while three
Councillor Ian Selby (Unaligned - Grantham Harrowby) wanted the bridge to be
He said: “Bourne is so lucky to have the bridge and if you take away the shrubs and graffiti, it could be something magnificent.
“There’s so much that could be done with it for the community with a little bit of imagination.”
After the meeting, Steve Giullari praised Coun Selby for his support.
“It is really disappointing that the councillors of Bourne didn’t support their constituents who signed this petition and the heritage of the town.
“Coun Ian Selby’s support was magnificent and really quite humbling and if our Bourne councillors had backed him, we might have had a different outcome.
“I pleaded with them not to remove the tomestone of our lost railway and they ignored me.”