CONTROVERSIAL plans to infill a bridge in the Upper Itchen Valley are still on hold, according to the national roads body.

The bridge, located on Stoke Road near Itchen Abbas, had been planned to be infilled, but the work was temporarily postponed as part of a national pause.

The infilling of bridges is part of a national plan to fill foamed concrete under old bridges which National Highways has said is reversible.

National Highways confirmed that the work is still on hold, despite the site being cleared of vegetation in January.

READ MORE HERE: Infill plan for railway bridge is criticised

A recent study carried out by Sustrans identified the bridge as a structure that should be retained for “potential future active travel use”.

Graeme Bickerdike, a member of The HRE Group, said: “The recent study by Sustrans into National Highways’ proposed infilling and demolition programme has revealed just how much of a negative impact it could have on the development of new active travel routes. Two-thirds of the 75 bridges within the programme are identified as having possible future value. This is an important finding and broadly mirrors a study we undertook last year. Now, further work needs to be carried out to understand the importance of these structures in terms of ecology, heritage and possible future rail use.

“Stoke Road bridge has long since been earmarked for use within the Watercress Way and National Highways should already have been aware of this. Although it remains under threat, Sustrans’ formal recommendation that it should be retained will hopefully secure its continued presence within the landscape and ensure that it is sympathetically repaired for reuse, not infilled. We need to regard these legacy structures as assets that can contribute to a better future, not inconvenient liabilities.”

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Kimberley Barber