Hampshire County Council

Executive Member - Environment

26 February 2008

Aldern Bridge, Burghclere - Environmental Weight Limit

Report of the Director of Environment

Item 3

Contact: Gabriela Galbenu, tel 01962 874704

email: gabriela.galbenu@hants.gov.uk

1. Summary

1.1 Aldern Bridge is currently subject to a 7.5 tonne weight restriction, because of its poor condition. As there are no practical options for repair or strengthening the existing structure, the bridge is to be replaced during 2008. As the new bridge will be designed to current loading standards, the current weight restriction will no longer be appropriate; however, in order to prevent use of the C183 by heavy commercial vehicles, for which it is unsuitable, it is proposed to replace the existing `weak bridge' restriction with a weight limit of the same value.

1.2 This proposal will prevent the unnecessary movement of heavy commercial vehicles through the village of Burghclere, preventing damage to the local environment, and reducing the likelihood of road traffic accidents, thereby contributing to making Hampshire safer and more secure for all, as such traffic is unsuitable having regard to the existing character of the road and adjoining property.

2. Recommendations

2.1 That an order be made under Sections 1, 2 and 3 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, the effect of which will be to prohibit all heavy commercial vehicles (goods vehicles with an operating weight exceeding 7.5 tonnes) from proceeding on the C183 from the southern end of Aldern Bridge, Newtown (OS Grid Reference E449014 N163739) to its junction with the C171 (OS Grid Reference E448750 N163240).

2.2 That the traffic regulation order referred to in (i) above be implemented before the replacement of Aldern Bridge has been completed and is re-opened to traffic (estimated October 2008).

2.3 That, on implementation of the traffic regulation order referred to in (i) above, the existing 7.5 tonne weight restriction on Aldern Bridge be revoked.

3. Introduction

3.1 Aldern Bridge carries the C183 road over the River Enborne, and is situated on the county boundary between West Berkshire and Hampshire (location plan attached). The bridge is currently subject to a 7.5 tonne weight restriction (which has been in place for many years) because of its poor structural condition. As there are no practical means of maintaining or strengthening the existing structure, the bridge is to be replaced during 2008. Once the replacement bridge is installed and open to traffic, there will be no valid reason for retaining the current 7.5 tonne 'weak bridge' limit. A replacement bridge with limited capacity could not be designed using current standards, and would not be appropriate as this would also restrict access by emergency service vehicles.

3.2 To remove the possibility of inappropriate use, it is proposed to replace the current 7.5 tonne structural weight restriction with a traffic regulation order prohibiting heavy commercial vehicles from the section of the C183 to the south of the bridge, to be implemented at the same time as the new bridge is opened to traffic. To avoid complications over legal orders on the West Berkshire side of the boundary, it has been suggested that the restriction commences at the Hampshire end of the new bridge (some 10 metres to the south of the county boundary), although there will clearly still need to be advance warning signs on the A339 (as at present) to prevent prohibited vehicles turning into the junction. The southern end of the restriction would be at the junction of the C183 with the C171, approximately 600 metres south of the bridge.

4. Consultations

4.1 Consultations with the local community regarding the replacement of the bridge have led to concerns being raised by a local Basingstoke and District Member, Councillor Lewin, and Burghclere Parish Council over the prospect of the C183 road from Aldern Bridge through to Burghclere village being used by heavy commercial vehicles, as a 'rat-run' by drivers seeking an alternative route between the A339 and the A34, if the existing restriction is removed. The road in question is wholly inappropriate for such vehicles, because of its narrow width and poor alignment, and because it passes both residential areas and the village schools.

4.2 These concerns have been heightened by the prospect of further development on the former Greenham Common site (to the north of the A339), which is likely to generate significant volumes of HCV traffic, which may also seek to use the C183 over Aldern Bridge as an alternative route to the A34. A more appropriate route is provided by the B4640 previously classified as the A34 (prior to the opening of the Newbury By-pass), which is of suitable width and alignment for use by heavy vehicles.

5. Local Member's Views

5.1 The local Member, Councillor Maxwell, has raised concerns over the likely adverse effects of removing the existing weight restriction at Aldern bridge, and therefore supports this proposal.

6. Impact Assessments

6.1 Assessment of the Race Relations (Amendment) Act has been considered in the development of this proposal. No adverse impact has been identified in terms of race, creed or gender.

7. Conclusion

7.1 This proposal is strongly supported by the local community (including the affected County and District Councillors) as a pragmatic means of preserving the status quo, and preventing unnecessary use of the C183 by heavy vehicles for which it is inadequate.

LINK(S) TO CORPORATE STRATEGY

Yes

No

Hampshire safer and more secure for all

Maximising well-being

Enhancing our quality of place

Section 100 D - Local Government Act 1972 - background papers

The following documents disclose facts or matters on which this report, or an important part of it, is based and has been relied upon to a material extent in the preparation of this report.

NB the list excludes:

1.

Published works.

2.

Documents which disclose exempt or confidential information as defined in the Act.

TITLE

LOCATION

Scheme File

Environment Department

Capital House, Ground Floor

1566Rpt/GG