Footbridge would create new route over the River Welland

Nick Smith of the Northern Footpath Forum pictured near Casey's Corner, in Deeping St James, at the site of a proposed new footbridge over the River Welland. EMN-171201-164332001
Nick Smith of the Northern Footpath Forum pictured near Casey's Corner, in Deeping St James, at the site of a proposed new footbridge over the River Welland. EMN-171201-164332001
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An ambitious proposal to install a new pedestrian footbridge over the River Welland could become a reality later this year.

The project – which would create a new link between Deeping St James on the Lincolnshire side of the river and land between Peakirk and Northborough on the Cambridgeshire side – is being spearheaded by the Northern Footpath Forum.

Supporters say the bridge would be popular with dog walkers, joggers and ramblers and would put an end to people putting their safety at risk by walking across a nearby railway bridge.

The Northern Footpath Forum was formed in 2008 with the aim of mapping, protecting and joining footpaths in the Deepings, plus villages north of Peterborough.

For the past six years, members have been planning a new pedestrian crossing over the River Welland. Now, following a huge amount of work, their goal is in sight.

If funding of up to £250,000 is raised, it is possible the bridge could be ready for use by October of this year.

Forum member Nick Smith, who lives in Peakirk, said: “Historically, there was a ford across the river near this location. It was used for hundreds of years by farmers moving their livestock. People used to walk from Peterborough Cathedral to Crowland Abbey and use that ford.

“You can still see where it was and when we initially started thinking about a new crossing, the possibility of reopening the ford was investigated. While the water is generally pretty shallow, at times of flooding it could be dangerous, so that idea was abandoned.”

Nick said that driving between Peakirk or Northborough and Deeping St James involves a 12.6-mile car journey. If a new bridge was installed, people would be able walk the short distance across the river in minutes.

He added: “This is all about getting people out into the countryside. It’s a beautiful spot and there are some great walks around here.

“It would improve access to the Deeping Lakes nature reserve which is right near the proposed bridge location.

“Currently there is only a rail bridge across the river. Trains go past at 60mph, but some people walk along it – putting their safety at risk.”

Working in conjunction with Deeping St James Parish Council, the Northern Footpath Forum has secured planning permission from South Kesteven District Council and the project has been approved by the Environment Agency. Surrounding footpaths have already been improved.

Forum members are now attempting to raise funds. An online donation page has been set up, and approaches are being made to corporate backers. At least £6,000 will have to be raised locally.

For more details, visit www.facebook.com/riverwellandfootbridgeproject/

To make a donation, visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/sally-ann-jackson-2