Plans for 'iconic' bridge over Parkway to link communities

REVISED plans have been unveiled for an "iconic" new bridge between Sheffield and Rotherham – after an earlier design for the structure was ditched for being too expensive.

The bridge was originally commissioned to link the deprived Sheffield district of Darnall with an advanced manufacturing park in neighbouring Rotherham, which is set to expand.

It will span the busy A630 Sheffield Parkway, which connects Sheffield city centre with the M1, and according to architects the bridge will have a significant impact on road safety.

Regional development agency Yorkshire Forward is behind the project and a competition was launched to find the winning design for the bridge more than two years ago.

The contest was run for Yorkshire Forward by the Royal Institute for British Architects, but the eventual winning design required build costs much higher than the 1.5m budget.

As a result, the winning blueprint was abandoned, and the bridge is now planned as a single span Vierendeel design, which is described as a "significantly less expensive product".

The bridge will have to be approved by planners at both Sheffield and Rotherham councils, because as well as crossing the dual carriageway, it also spans the borough boundary.

Plans submitted to both authorities show that the structure will be made from tubular steel and will require the creation of large supporting embankments on either side of the road.

Drawings show the bridge will start close to the advanced manufacturing park, near the Rotherham village of Catcliffe and end on the edge of Sheffield's Tinsley Park golf course.

The project has been supported by several environmental and sustainable transport groups, including cycling pressure group Sustrans, which praises the safety aspect of the bridge.

The Trans Pennine Trail group also said: "The provision of this bridge will provide a needed and safe crossing point of the busy road for people walking and cycling in the area.

"It will considerably enhance the attractiveness of routes in this area and will encourage more people to walk or cycle as part of their daily lives."

Local environmental group Friends of High Hazels Park has expressed some concern about the scheme, including worries about the loss of trees caused by the construction.

Planners at Sheffield Council have already indicated their support for the scheme, even though it constitutes "development in the green belt" and have urged approval.

In a report to be considered at a meeting next week, officers say: "The principle of the development is considererd to be acceptable at this site in greenbelt terms.

"It is felt that the engineered embankment is an important piece of infrastructure that must be installed to help accommodate the new bridge.

"The bridge cannot happen without these works, which would in turn compromise the regeneration of the advanced manufacturing park.

"Furthermore, it is considered that installation of the bridge will improve the recreational facilities and options available for users of footpaths and bridleways in the area.

"The current footpath takes pedestrians straight to the Parkway edge to a very dangerous crossing which leads across four lanes of traffic where the speed limit is 50mph."

No development could begin until the Highways Agency gives its approval, because any major project on the Sheffield Parkway could have an effect on traffic on the M1 at junction 33.