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The White Bridge Link

An exciting new project to link up Steyning, Bramber & Beeding

Steyning, Bramber and Upper Beeding are right next door to each other. But we lack a safe cycling option between the three parishes. This is a particular issue for children travelling to the various school sites. The current options involve busy roads, roundabouts and dangerous crossings. And the existing footpath across the water meadows is a muddy quagmire for several months of the year.

A working party formed in April 2022, under the auspices of the Steyning & District Community Partnership, has been busy looking at options for improving walking and
cycling connections between the three communities.

So what’s the plan?

We’re calling it the ‘The White Bridge Link’ – named after the metal bridge over the Adur, once painted white, which is central to the plan.

The proposal is to upgrade the paths between Kings Barn Lane in Steyning and Saltings Way in Upper Beeding with:

The next steps will now focus on securing the necessary funding to deliver this project. One such route will be via CrowdFunder which we plan to launch in the near future and hope to capture the support of the community for this project.

White Bridge Proposed Plan

The intention is to upgrade the two footpath spurs leading to St Peter’s Church and Beeding Bridge to smoother, all-weather surfaces similar to the ‘Walks For All’ paths south of the bridge. Achieving full bridleway status would not be practical, so the current paths will still be designated footpaths but with permissive cycle use. So it will be a win-win for a whole range of local users.

The landowners and government agencies have been approached, and all are supportive. So it’s a case of ‘so far so good’. The next step is to gauge public support.

Early Progress

Plans for the White Bridge Link project are gathering pace. The two drop-in events held in Upper Beeding and Steyning April to get feedback on the scheme were both well attended –
a big thanks to everyone who came along.

They showed there is an encouraging degree of community support for the idea. Here’s a sample of the comments received:

“Brilliant idea – my whole family would definitely use it.”

“Great job guys – please make this happen.”

“A superb initiative… we are thrilled at the thought of our children being able to cycle to school.”

“I have a mobility scooter… this will enable me to get out Steyning and along the river which I cannot do at the moment.”

Whilst feedback was significantly in favour of the project, some concerns were also raised, which will be investigated and reported back on.

With designs now well advanced, the relevant permissions obtained, and initial contractors’ quotes submitted, the next step is to raise the funds to make it happen!

There’s good news on that front. A local charitable trust has made a commitment in principle to provide £125,000 towards the overall project cost of between £250,00 and £300,000. And bids have been submitted to a number of other potential funders.

There are also plans afoot for a crowdfunding campaign to raise part of the costs from the local community. To avoid uncertainty, a decision has been made to hold off the launch of this campaign until more of the funding is in place. Details will be announced here as soon as it’s ready to go.

To help strengthen the project’s fundraising efforts, a short user survey is being conducted to gauge how people would use the new paths and see who might be willing to contribute to a crowdfunding appeal.

Here’s the link to the survey: [Survey is now closed]

We’d appreciate your input!

Update on the White Bridge closure – October 2023

The footbridge over the River Adur just north of Bramber Bridge was closed in late August, after a safety inspection by West Sussex County Council. Known as the White Bridge, the bridge is a key connecting route for walkers. So its closure has been a big concern and inconvenience for everyone who uses it, especially children getting to and from school.

It has also been a setback for the White Bridge Link project, which was well down the track in developing plans to upgrade the path on each side of the bridge to create a new, improved, all-weather route between Steyning, Bramber and Upper Beeding suitable for cyclists, walkers and mobility vehicles.

The White Bridge Link Working Party has been keeping close tabs on what’s been happening since. It has been liaising with the three local Parish Councils, Horsham District Council and the County Council, to stress the importance of the bridge to the local community and underline the urgency of getting it back in action. Here’s an update on the story so far and what the future looks like.

Why the Bridge was closed

The bridge is inspected periodically by WSCC to check for wear and tear. On a recent inspection this summer, extensive corrosion was discovered on the steel trusses that form the main framework of the bridge, and on the outriggers that support the large gas and water pipes attached on each side. In addition, cracks were observed in the concrete foundations that the bridge sits on.

Built in 1903, the bridge is clearly showing it’s age. The County Council took the difficult decision that it had to be closed immediately to avoid safety risks. They have concluded that it cannot be repaired and needs to be replaced entirely, which will be a big and expensive job.

This photo from the WSCC inspection report shows the extent of the corrosion.

What happens next?

It is reassuring to hear from the County Council that they are treating the bridge replacement as high priority. However it is taking time to scope out the work needed, partly because of the complexity of the job and the need to liaise with counterparts in the gas company (the water main is no longer in use).

Topographical and ground surveys are being commissioned, and landowners have been approached and are supportive of the bridge replacement. But it is too early for the Council to set to a date for when work will begin. The indications are that it will be a least a year before a new bridge is in place.

It means the White Bridge Link project is on hold for now. The Working Party is continuing with fundraising efforts and is working closely with the County and District Councils to make sure the new bridge is suitably designed for both bikes and walkers. Parish Councils are also keeping the pressure on.

We know it will be popular when the new bridge does get built. An online survey conducted over the summer showed there is strong demand from local users – walkers, cyclists, wheelchair and pushchair users. Nearly three quarters of respondents said they’d use the path more than they do now if it was improved, and a similar number said they would consider contributing to a crowdfunding campaign to cover part of the costs.

So while it’s a major inconvenience for now, there are good prospects that we will end up with a better bridge and a much-improved path in the media term. We’ll keep you posted.

Do come along to find out more, and hear about the crowdfunding campaign being launched to cover part of the costs of the scheme. We are hoping this is a good news project that will benefit the whole community, and which all three parishes will get behind!