Footbridge over the River Welland could link Deeping St James and Peakirk
Campaigners hope a new pedestrian footbridge over the River Welland can be built by the end of the year.
The not-for-profit Northern Footpath Forum is spearheading the project, which would create a new link between Deeping St James on the Lincolnshire side of the river and Peakirk on the Cambridgeshire side.
The long-awaited project has been underway for nine years, with the forum now gaining a renewal of planning permission.
The forum’s Nick Smith said: “We have everything in place. All we need to do is raise the money and get the tenders in. We would, if possible, like to build the bridge this autumn but we need to raise £230,000. This would be a steel bridge that should last 100 years.”
Mr Smith, who lives in Peakirk, recalls how the chosen site used to have a ford and for centuries farmers used it to move their livestock.
“We looked at re-opening the ford, but for health and safety reasons, we could not do it.”
However, having jumped through all the planning hoops, including having surveys on the bridge’s potential impact on bats, badgers and other environmental issues, the forum now will step up its fundraising.
Around £25,000 has been raised so far, but most of this has gone into funding various reports and buying a strip of land to give access to the bridge.
Nick said: “We hope to receive funds, including match-funding, from big charities. We hope to get funding from WREN and Natural England and I am starting to write to people directly.
"We will also be staging fundraising events."
Deepings St James parish councillor Jim Blessett said his council supported the bridge plan and had helped to resubmit the planning application for the group, also helping with funding and agreeing to maintain it.
He said: “In Deeping St James we are short of walks in nice countryside. The bridge will create extra walks in peaceful, tranquil, rural surroundings.
“We are very optimistic that this project will come to fruition this year. We have all the permissions we need.”
Anyone who can donate to the project is asked to contact Nick on 01733 253472 or Sally-Anne Jackson on 01733 253483.