County council to cover any overspend risk on new Chelmsford bridge

Risks associated with any overspend on a new bridge to support green travel to and from a 10,000 home development in Chelmsford will be met by Essex County Council, it has been revealed.

The bridge – to be built over the yet to be constructed North East Bypass – will support significant levels of new housing to the north of the city contained within the adopted Chelmsford Local Plan, in particular the Chelmsford Garden Community in the north east of the city.

But before the Chelmsford Garden Community can commence, five years of quarrying which forms part of an extant planning permission needs to be carried out.

Instead of a £4 million temporary bridge to transport sand and gravel to a quarrying plant to the east of the Chelmsford North East Bypass a permanent £5.5 million structure will be built.

Chelmsford City Council agreed on Wednesday, May 19 to release £1.5 million of forward funding – effectively loaned from the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) –  to allow the delivery of the permanent bridge.

This funding will be paid back through Section 106 monies from the developer later on.

Cabinet member Councillor Mike Mackrory, at the meeting of the city council, said: “The funding principle is essentially to forward fund the cost of £1.5 million with £4 million coming from Essex County Council and the balance being made up of £1.5 million from the already held CIL funds.

“That £1.5 million is to be subsequently reimbursed by the developer by way of a Section 106 as part of the future housing development.

“This to be underwritten by a memorandum of understanding between Essex County Council and the developer.

“Should there be any overspend in the construction cost of £5.5 million this is to be met by Essex County Council .”

A statement to the council said: “The delivery of the new multi-modal highway bridge would ensure that walking, cycling and other forms of sustainable transport would be planned into the development from the outset which will reduce the need for private car trips in the long term and encourage active travel.

“Ensuring that only one bridge is constructed without abortive works and use of materials will also provide significant environmental benefits over the existing base case.”

Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter