An agreement has been brokered between Plymouth City Council, the Environment Agency and Sutton Harbour Holdings plc for repairs to enable the Sutton Harbour pedestrian footbridge to re-open.
Leader of the Council, Councillor Ian Bowyer and MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport Luke Pollard brokered the agreement between Sutton Harbour Holdings plc and the Environment Agency to repair the custom-built footbridge, which connects the Barbican Quarter with the Fishing Quarter of Sutton Harbour where the National Marine Aquarium and Rockfish restaurant are based.
The footbridge has been closed since the spring following a failure of the bridge turntable. Under an agreement dating back to 1998, the management and maintenance responsibilities for the lock gates and the footbridge are shared between the Environment Agency and Sutton Harbour Holdings plc. The bridge crosses Sutton Lock, and is an integral part of the lock gate system, which is designed to act as a vital flood defence measure, protecting homes and businesses in Sutton Harbour, Barbican, Coxside, Bretonside and surrounding areas from high tides.
Engineering reports commissioned by the Environment Agency earlier this year following the breakdown found the bearing in the bridge turntable had failed, and new parts will need to be manufactured in order to repair the mechanism.
Plymouth City Council convened a special meeting to find a solution to the issue of bringing the bridge back into use as a key pedestrian link, and agree a timetable for work to take place. The Council has offered to act as an intermediary to commission work to repair the bridge. Plymouth Waterfront Partnership has also offered support.
Leader of the Council Ian Bowyer said: “Sutton Harbour is a huge draw for both tourists and local people and ensuring businesses can trade here successfully is a key priority for the Council.
“The broken footbridge has been a concern for many months and I am pleased that we have been able to find a way forward for its repair.
“We appreciate it could be a complex repair and there are longer term issues to be addressed, but we needed to push on with a resolution for the city, for the local businesses and for the people who use this great route to and from the city centre and the historic Barbican Quarter.
“We will be working with both parties to avoid this situation happening again. This is not the end of the process but it is certainly a huge step in the right direction.”
Jason Schofield, Chief Executive of Sutton Harbour Holdings plc, said: “We are keen to see the Sutton Harbour footbridge brought back into service as quickly as possible for both people who live and work locally and visitors to Plymouth to use, as well as for the benefit of local businesses.
“We are very pleased that an agreement in principle has been brokered between ourselves, the Environment Agency and Plymouth City Council, so we can now work towards re-opening this important pedestrian link”
Luke Pollard, Member of Parliament for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, said: “The footbridge is an essential lifeline for Rockfish and the National Marine Aquarium and it needs to be repaired and re-opened swiftly.
“I have been speaking with Sutton Harbour Holdings and the Environment Agency for many weeks trying to find a solution and am pleased that it has been possible to bring everyone together to agree a plan of action. I want to thank the Council for working so hard to find a solution. It will still take time for the bridge to be repaired but I am pleased there is now a clear and agreed way forward that all parties are able to get behind.”
The Council will now begin a process to commission repairs to the existing footbridge. The scale and timescales for the repairs is not yet known as the work has to be scoped in detail and tendered although it is hoped that it will be completed next Summer.