Farnham, Waverley and Surrey councils have opened discussions with Brightwells Yard developer Crest Nicholson with a view to replacing the temporary A31 construction bridge with a permanent shared pedestrian/cycle bridge.

This new bridge, originally proposed in 2012, would span the River Wey to connect the new development to Borelli Walk.

However, a new planning application is required in order for it to accommodate cyclists, as new building regulations state a shared pedestrian/cycle bridge must be at least four metres wide, double the width of the replacement footbridge originally consented in Crest Nicholson’s 2012 planning agreement for Brightwells.

Crest Nicholson is believed to favour building the bridge as originally proposed and limiting it to pedestrians only, while Surrey County Council is pressing for a new bridge to form part of its Farnham Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan.

However, at last Friday's Farnham Infrastructure Programme board meeting, town clerk Iain Lynch made a third proposal on behalf of Farnham Town Council.

Mr Lynch suggested that Crest retain the narrower, more “aesthetically pleasing” Borelli Walk bridge as originally planned, and replace the existing, worse-for-wear footbridge by the 40 Degreez youth centre with a bespoke bridge for cyclists.

The wooden footbridge across the River Wey by the 40 Degreez youth centre, which councillor Andy MacLeod acknowledged is in a 'shocking condition'
The wooden footbridge across the River Wey by the 40 Degreez youth centre, which councillor Andy MacLeod acknowledged is in a 'shocking condition' (Daniel Gee)

This proposal was presented to councillors at March's Farnham Town Council meeting, after members criticised the appearance of the larger bridge proposed by Surrey, which would require a long ramp "propped up by rocks in crates" to allow its use by cyclists and was dismissed as a "carbuncle" by Mr Lynch.

However, town councillors also expressed fears for potential "conflict" between cyclists and pedestrians if the bridge is not made wide enough, as well as expressing alarm at a proposal to direct Farnham's new north-south cycle track through the Brightwells Yard development.

Councillor Carole Cockburn expressed her displeasure at the idea of having cyclists "bombing into a development" where families will be relaxing and coming to spend their leisure time.

However, Waverley Borough Council's portfolio holder for Brightwells, Andy MacLeod, said the 40 Degreez cycle bridge should not be seen as an "alternative" but "additional" to the Brightwells bridge, and assured councillors there were no plans for cycle tracks through the middle of the Brightwells development, but rather "around the edge" of it.

Cllr Mark Merryweather added it was "wishful thinking" to assume cyclists would go where they are told, and agreed with Cllr MacLeod that two bridges appropriate for cyclists would be better than one.

Discussions are ongoing between Farnham, Waverley and Surrey councils and Crest Nicholson.

The Borelli Walk bridge is part of the FIP's proposed Borelli 'Park and Stride' scheme, in which Brightwells Yard visitors will be encouraged to park in the Riverside car park and 'stride' along the riverside path to the new development.