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Traders slam bridge plan
REVISED plans for a bridge linking Wimborne’s Waitrose with the town centre have come under fire from traders.
More than 10 of the town’s businesses have taken to the district council’s planning portal to object to the bridge.
But others from the town have taken to the portal to support the structure, and BID chairman Chris Slocock said he feels the structure would open up the town centre for shoppers.
“The current application is not a planning application for a footbridge – it is an application to vary a condition of the approved scheme,” said Mr Slocock, who is the managing director of Minster Press.
“I think it’s unfortunate that there are a few who don’t seem to want the bridge, as many are very supportive of it. We feel positive about it because that’s what the majority of businesses said they wanted a year ago when a petition went around to get the bridge built.”
The petition, which urged Waitrose to push on with negotiations for the bridge, collected 500 signatures in just three days in 2011.
Mr Slocock said: “We have got to make Wimborne accessible for shoppers.
“There are obviously some concerns, but many feel the bridge will link the supermarket with the town centre and improve footfall.”
The new application is a revised plan for the bridge, which was made a condition of approval for the supermarket.
The application is for a variation of the condition, changing the layout of the pedestrian bridge to include public ramped access for additional accessibility, and to include lighting at night.
If the application is unsuccessful, the footbridge will be constructed in its originally approved form, without the improvements set out in the latest plans.
But 13 businesses, including Minster Sweets, Tickety Boo and the Laughing Pot, have posted the same objection to the bridge on the planning website, despite the fact it will be built regardless.
The traders say the £150,000 pledged by Waitrose in 2009 as part of a section 106 agreement could be better spent enhancing other parts of Wimborne.
They have also written: “Most importantly, the footfall pattern used by Waitrose customers and residents will change to using the shortest route, which would be the proposed bridge.
“This could result in footfall heading to East Street and beyond reducing by between 20 and 30 per cent. That reduction could put real pressure on retailers in this area of town.”
Mr Slocock said: “The footfall pattern will have an easier route if the bridge is built.
“No routes to East Street are being closed. Sheer speculation is not appropriate.”