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Issue 291 – Frome’s new bridge awaits planning decision

Plans for a new pedestrian and cycle bridge to be built across the River Frome, to succeed the disused Bailey Bridge, are to be scrutinised by Mendip District Council’s planning department.

When the Bailey Bridge was closed in 2007 for safety reasons, direct access was cut off from the large residential north-west area of Frome through to the eastern side which includes the public car park, library and healthcare facilities.
With the Bailey Bridge due to be demolished, formal and informal consultations with local residents identified a common agreement to re-open this access route. It has also been identified as a priority by the town council.
Now, a planning application to build a new bridge over the river has been submitted to Mendip District Council, the local planning authority.
According to the plans, the bridge is formed from weathering steel. A trade name for the material is Cor-Ten and has been used in a large number of artworks and sculptures, in addition to primarily structural roles. It was used most notably in the Angel of the North sculpture.
Frome Town Council will be considering a name for the bridge at a meeting on 13th January, when town councillors will also be considering a way of honouring Jenson Button’s world-beating achievements.
The plans say that the material will be of an organic orangy-brown appearance at first and will weather down to a stable, textured brown over the period of a year or two. The use of steel for the bridge provides a continuation of the metalworking heritage of the area. The deck surface upon which users will walk is formed from hardwood boards. The boards are orientated across the main bridge axis and are likely to be of a warm dark colour. The preference for a timber walking surface was expressed by members of the public and by the district and town council representatives.
The planning application’s design statement says, “It was identified at the consultation stage that a number of members of the public were keen to retain the facility to integrate public works into the bridge at a later date. The balustrade infill system is therefore formed in discrete panels and are easily removable so that they may be replaced with specially commissioned works of art if required.
“A number of clear design parameters and preferences have been identified during the assessment and consultation exercise. It is also evident that there is local support from the district council, the town council, and the town residents and users.
“It is hoped that it will meet the requirements and aspirations of the users and that it will provide an appropriate asset to the social and physical fabric of the town.”

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