There is new information on the footbridge after local consultation. This is a very important route for local walkers, and of some historical significance as a bridge over the now lost High Level railway from Nunhead to Crystal Palace. There seems a possibility of compromise, and there is a crowdfunder launched to investigate. email received today.
Many thanks for completing the Cox’s Walk Footbridge Repair Survey: to determine how people used Cox’s Walk and the footbridge and their preferences for its future. You are receiving this email because you asked to be kept informed of progress. The Survey closed on 19th June with over 160 responses and the full report can be found here. (If you have trouble accessing the report, or would like a copy emailed to you, please respond to this email.)
Overview of the Results
The clear message from the Survey was that retention of the oak trees was of paramount importance. Most people (over 90%) favoured a bridge repair or replacement, as long as the trees were retained . First preference was for a bridge that preserved the historic design of the existing bridge, but with minor changes if necessary. However, a change of design was still more popular than losing the bridge altogether. The third choice was for the path to be re-routed through the woods, with no bridge, rather than lose the oak trees. LB Southwark Highways Dept current plan was the least popular, with only about 70% of respondees selecting it as an option at all, and most of those had it as their last choice.
There was a strong emphasis on exercise, mental health and relaxation in the reasons people gave for using the footpath and the woods. Most journeys that used the footbridge were going into or leaving the woods rather than using the length of Cox’s Walk as a through route. This means that re-routing the path would be a realistic option in the unfortunate circumstance of a technical solution that retained the trees and repaired the bridge not being accepted by the Council.
We are therefore making the following recommendations to Southwark Council:
· The Council agrees to the retention of the two oak trees and revokes the planning permission to fell them.
· The Council acknowledges that its current repair option is unacceptable to the vast majority of the community and withdraws this plan.
· The Council continues to consider alternative engineering solutions that preserve the trees. If a solution cannot be agreed on, the Council should work with London Wildlife Trust to re-route the path through Sydenham Hill Wood.
New Design Solution & Crowdfunder Campaign
I would also like to share with you the exciting news that the Campaign has been approached by an independent, local structural engineer with a design solution that repairs the footbridge and both retains the oak trees and the main features of the existing historic design. We have shown this proposal to an arboriculturist, a conservation architect and another structural engineer who all agree that it is feasible, of low risk to the trees and meets the Council’s longevity criteria. More than that, we also believe that this design is likely to save tax-payers’ money.
There is still some work to be done before we can present this proposal to Southwark Highways Dept and we have started a Crowdfunder Campaign to raise the funds necessary. These will support the engineer in working up his design proposal. He has so far volunteered his time, but it will take many hours work to get it to the stage where we can take it to the Council. Funds will also enable us to pay for a professional arboriculturist report as supporting evidence that the risks to or from the trees are low. If you are able to help with a donation, any contribution would be hugely appreciated.
Many thanks again for engaging with the Survey and following the Campaign’s progress. However, if you no longer wish to receive updates, just respond to this mail to let me know.