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Bridge over busy road gets its orders

July 29, 2021 10:30 AM
In New Valley News

Soldiers who risked their lives crossing the lines, not on a battlefield but in the middle of a busy country road, will be doubling across a footbridge soon.

Requests for a safe crossing for the camouflaged servicemen on the busy B390, which divides the north of Knook Army camp from the larger South barracks near Heytesbury, may soon become reality.

After years of complaints about soldiers' safety, the left-right-left-right of marching boots will no longer be matched by the eyes-right-eyes-left on the parade ground to dodge fast-moving traffic.

Planners at County Hall and those who guard the Cranborne Chase Area of Natural Beauty (AONB), which also has a special 'dark skies' designation, accepted this month that special measures could be taken.

The order was issued.

A new bridge is planned to blend into the landscape with tree and other planting, and Heytesbury Imber and Knook parish council has asked that 'the galvanised steel should be painted green to make it blend in better with the environment'.

There had been a long history of the military requesting pedestrian safety on this stretch of road which links one side of Salisbury Plain near Stonehenge with the A36.

In the past, zebra crossings and town centre style pelican crossings have been considered and rejected. The alternative use of a subway was also considered and rejected.

The footbridge planning conditions imposed include lighting to meet 'Dark Skies' aims, with screen planting and the painting colour 'moorland green'.

The report concluded the novel rural form of crossing was approved because 'on balance the benefits to pedestrian and highway safety is considered to outweigh the harm to the wider landscape character as a result of its visual presence'.

The Knook footbridge plan raised some eyebrows with the local three parishes council when it was revealed in April and they commented during the consultation process by Wiltshire Council.

"Some concerns have been expressed and held, including my own, on the visual impact of the pedestrian footbridge," said Cllr Vanessa Sturmey who has represented the small village of Knook for 15 years.

"But I did support it in the end purely for health and safety reasons. The colour change from stainless steel to Moorland green and planting will go some way to help it to blend in."

The Heytesbury, Imber and Knook councillor works on Salisbury Plain and makes scores of trips past the gates into the North and South Army camps regularly taking part in military exercises.

"This stretch of road between the camps is a busy 60mph shortcut between the A303 and A36, and on winter evenings the soldiers could been seen queuing up in the dark to cross the road at mealtimes," explained Vanessa.

"This is not only a danger for our Army personnel but also for motorists.

"All too often, improvements are made after a tragedy, so it is good to see some preventative measures taking place before an accident occurs."

Bridge over busy road gets its orders - New Valley News