North Tyneside Council has submitted a planning application for the demolition of Borough Road Footbridge in North Shields. This page provides answers to frequently asked questions about the proposal.
Why is the council proposing to remove the bridge?
The bridge is fast approaching the end of its serviceable life and isn’t well used. It is also an anti-social behaviour black spot with reported incidents of dangerous and anti-social behaviour. Following a public consultation, plans were made to remove the bridge.
What will be the alternative?
We are proposing to introduce a parallel pedestrian/cycle crossing at ground level between the junction of Waldo Street and Trinity Lane/Addison Street.
How do you know the bridge is not widely used?
Two pedestrian surveys of the bridge have been carried out. The first was carried out over four days between Thursday, August 27 and Sunday, August 30 2015 (an August Bank Holiday weekend and during school holidays). The survey recorded between 123 and 160 bridge crossings from 7am to 7pm.
A further survey was conducted on Tuesday, November 20 2018, from 7am to 7pm, which recorded 91 bridge crossings. On the same day, there was also a pedestrian survey of Borough Road at ground level which showed there 1,163 crossings of the road.
What has been done to try to tackle anti-social behaviour on the bridge?
Along with Northumbria Police, we have tried to manage this issue. The police installed a CCTV camera at this location last year in an attempt to capture anti-social behaviour evidence, but unfortunately the camera was vandalised beyond repair within a few days of being installed.
There have been suggestions of raising the sides of the bridge to prevent objects being thrown over or installing nets either side of the bridge to manage the anti-social behaviour, but we haven’t been able to arrive at an affordable or credible solution to this issue.
Is the council selling land under or next to the bridge?
No. There is a triangle of land that is up for sale by a private land owner and this has been for a number of years. This has no relevance on the decision to remove the bridge.
When was the bridge built?
The existing steel lattice footbridge was built in 1936 and replaced the iron 1850’s footbridge.
Is the bridge listed?
It is unlisted.
What inspections and repairs have been carried out in recent years?
A principal inspection, which involved a close examination of the bridge was carried out in 2011. An even more detailed inspection, known as a special inspection, took place in 2013.The bridge was found to be in a fair condition requiring substantial work to extend its life. It has widespread corrosion and paint failure along with other issues.
Pending a decision on the long-term future of the bridge, an essential safety repair took place in 2016 after a self-seeding sapling displaced the large sandstone copings at the top of the eastern abutment.
How much would the capital cost* be to demolish, repair or replace the bridge?
It is estimated that demolishing the bridge would have a capital cost of around £63,000.
It would have a capital cost of around £360,000 to bring the bridge to a good condition (an alternative ‘do minimum’ repair option was costed at £290,000). Further maintenance work would still be required at least every 10 years.
Demolishing and replacing the bridge would cost around £1million (incorporates optimism bias assumptions outlined in DfT Transport Analysis Guidance 1.2, July 2017).
*Capital costs are fixed, one-time expenses
What public consultation was held about the proposal to demolish the bridge?
We consulted key stakeholders and also wrote to more than 900 households in the local area. The letter invited people to give their views by post, email, or at drop-in events held at North Shields Customer First Centre or The Parks Sports Centre on December 7 2017. Notices were displayed at Borough Road Bridge about the proposals and drop-in event.
The overall response to the consultation was low – there were 39 objections, 13 responses in support and two neutral responses.
How is the council able to remove the Public Right of Way (PRoW) that the bridge provides?
We haven’t removed it. A separate process to reroute the PRoW would be needed and there would be opportunities for members of the public to comment and put forward any objections.
Why is a crossing being proposed on Borough Road before a decision is taken on the future of the bridge?
The 2018 survey shows that significantly more people are crossing Borough Road at ground level than over the bridge. The most recent Pedestrian Movement Survey showed more than 12 times the number of crossings by road.
The proposed crossing would provide a more centralised crossing point and improve links into North Shields town centre for all users.
As well as improve public safety, it will also support National Cycle Route 72 (NCN 72) Hadrian’s Cycleway which joins Borough Road from Addison Street.
The demolition of the bridge is now subject to planning permission and there is a formal consultation process in which comments and any objections received will inform a final decision.