Plans for an ‘Instagram-friendly’ signature bridge and associated works, part of Haverfordwest’s levelling-up works, have been given the thumbs-up by councillors.
An application by Pembrokeshire County Council to demolish the existing footbridge between Riverside and Western Quayside, replacing it with the new bridge was recommended for approval at the authority’s November 7 planning committee meeting.
The scheme, in the county town’s conservation area, also includes a ‘plaza’ public realm reconfiguration and enhancement; and repair, renewal and refurbishment of the former Cleddau Foundry building.
The application, part of the ‘Heart of Pembrokeshire’ regeneration project, had been expected to be considered at the October meeting, but was deferred as not enough members of the committee were present.
In 2020, Pembrokeshire County Council was awarded a Levelling Up Fund (LUF) grant for the Heart of Pembrokeshire: Rediscovering Haverfordwest Project, including the creation of a ‘signature bridge’ as the central feature of a ‘Cultural Corridor’.
Concerns about the proposed bridge – and potential costs – have previously been raised, and the design of the new bridge has previously been labelled an ‘Instagrammable’ bridge by Councillor Rhys Jordan when raising questions about costs associated with it.
A call to scrap the bridge was made at the October meeting of Pembrokeshire County Council by Councillor Alan Dennison, who said that rumours on social media “have put it [the bridge cost] at many millions of pounds”.
Cllr Jordan had left the November planning meeting during discussions about the bridge and associated application, having declared a prejudicial interest due to being “publicly critical of the design”.
“I feel it would be inappropriate of me to vote on the matter,” he told fellow committee members.
Councillor Mark Carter said: “We’ve got to consider it from a planning perspective, regardless of politics; I’m minded to support it because I can’t see a problem planning-wise.”
However, Councillor John Cole felt the new bridge would be detrimental to visitors’ shopping experiences in Haverfordwest, feeling it would “split up” any visits to the town.
Councillor Jamie Adams said the foundry building and plaza was “certainly something that should be brought into use”.
He added: “But I do have a problem with that footbridge; with the footbridge I find myself unable to support the application here today.”
Members were told the bridge formed an intertwined part of the overall application, with no option for a “split decision”.
The current bridge, while still safe to use will need major repairs in the next few years, members were told.
Councillor Brian Hall – who had asked for the ‘signature’ bridge cost figures to no avail – moved approval of the application.
Cllr Hall said there would be “a huge outcry” if nothing was done over the existing bridge in the event it became dangerous, adding: “I agree, it does cut the town in two, but it is the only way forward.”
The application – for conditional approval – was passed by 10 votes to three.