A BRIDGE over a disused railway line in a Hampshire village could be infilled.

The Stoke Road bridge, which spans the disused Mid-Hants Railway and The Watercress Way walking route, is part of a Highways England proposal to fill concrete underneath bridges they deem to be unsafe.

This has drawn criticism because the roads body decided that it would carry out the infilling under permitted development rights.

This allows temporary works to be carried out without planning permission in emergency situations presenting a serious threat of death or injury.

The Government announced earlier this year, that the works programme was being paused until the autumn, so they could consult with local communities.

Highways England Historical Railways Estate Director, Richard Marshall, said: “The Historical Railways Estate (HRE) is an important part of our industrial heritage.

“We continue to work closely with stakeholders to keep the estate and public safe, safeguard its future, ensure value for money for the taxpayer and re-use the assets wherever possible.

“This is why, where it is safe to, we have paused all infilling and demolition work, to give further time for local authorities and interest groups to fully consider HRE structures as part of their local plans to benefit walking, cycling and heritage railways.”

The bridge, which is 156 years old, is bridge 78 on the Watercress Way's 27 mile waymarked circular route which uses sections of two old railways and existing rights of way between Alresford, Kings Worthy and Sutton Scotney, near Winchester.

Highways England proposal would see 115 infilled bridges planned and 15 to be destroyed nationwide if all the planned work resumes.

A representative from The Watercress Way has been asked for a comment.