‘Defunct’ email leads to late challenge on bridge’s status

Residents outside County Hall in Chichester having listened to a debate over a petition calling on the county council not to demolish Boxal Bridge (staff photo). SUS-151019-162051001
Residents outside County Hall in Chichester having listened to a debate over a petition calling on the county council not to demolish Boxal Bridge (staff photo). SUS-151019-162051001

Campaigners fighting to keep Boxal Bridge from demolition have said they are ‘extremely disappointed’ at a decision from the county council to challenge the bridge’s listed status.

Historic England awarded the crossing, between Kirdford and Wisborough Green, Grade II status in January, as a structure of important architectural and historic interest.

But yesterday (Wednesday) West Sussex County Council confirmed it is challenging the listing on the 150-year-old bridge, which it has previously ruled is not worth repairing.

A county council spokesperson said: “We believe the existing bridge does not merit listing and does not meet the criteria.

“Information about the original listing application was sent to a defunct email inbox, so the county council did not have the opportunity to formally comment on it.

“We have now submitted the evidence we would have provided had we received the details of the application.

“The decision whether or not to uphold the listing will rest with Historic England, based on all the facts presented.”

Boxal Bridge is subject to regular structural safety tests and is expected to need repair or replacement in the future.

The county council has long intended to replace it and has begun drawing up designs for a two-way carriageway, citing a full replacement as the most cost effective option long-term.

Campaign group Keep Kirdford and Wisborough Green (KKWG) hoped the listing would save the bridge.

A newsletter sent to members appealed for funds towards employing a listed building consultancy to fight their case.

It read: “It goes without saying that we are extremely disappointed by these recent developments, especially when you consider well over 3,000 people signed a petition to save the bridge from demolition. KKWG are seriously beginning to wonder why the council is spending time and money on this issue.”