Work to replace a swing bridge in Rodley could end up taking ten months to deliver, according to the latest estimates provided by developers.
As previously reported by WLD, a new Moss Swing Bridge over the canal is being built to link to a planned housing development on the adjacent Airedale Mills site, which has been disused for some years. It was removed in January and was supposed to be installed and open by May, but work has failed to progress as expected.
The delay had caused concern to volunteers at both Rodley Cricket Club and Rodley Nature Reserve, who both rely on the bridge for easy access.
Councillors have blamed the developer Dynamic Capital for removing the previous bridge too soon – a claim denied by the developers, who blamed the delays on late changes to the design of the bridge.
Frustrated volunteers at Rodley Nature Reserve have voiced their concerns over the latest delays. In a statement, trustees said:
“A further schedule of work has now been received from the developer which, unfortunately, indicates that the completion of the engineering work to the swing bridge and access road is now likely to be mid-October.
“Further representations have now been made stating that he revised schedule is not acceptable.
“The Trust will continue to work closely with local councillors, Leeds city council planning officers and Yorkshire Water to ensure rapid progress is made to protect the interests of the reserve, its users and the community.”
The reserve’s existing Sunday opening arrangements will continue.
Councillors in both Bramley & Stanningley and Calverley & Farsley wards are pursuing the installation of a temporary footbridge if their calls to speed up the process are not met by developers.
Cllr Peter Carlill (Lab, Calverley & Farsley) said that the October date provided by the developer was unacceptable and called for works to be finished as soon as possible. He also called for full compensation to be paid to both Rodley Cricket Club and the Nature Reserve.
Cllr Carlill said that work on removing the previous bridge had been started with the permission of the bridge owners, Yorkshire Water, and the Canal and Rivers Trust. But – critically – he said two conditions of the outline planning conditions – had not been discharged at the time with the council.
The conditions included producing a schedule of work and building the bridge according to the details submitted in the planning application.
“If they had said at the time that the bridge would be out for ten months we would have requested the temporary access be built, ” Cllr Carlill added.
Council planning officers also say the bridge was being built to different specifications. Officers have this week given permission for the full building work to resume on the bridge and expect work to resume imminently.
A new gated emergency access road will also provide access to the cricket club and nature reserve from the Horsforth side.
Developers have previously said they were doing all they can to minimise disruption to the community and said they would pay compensation to both the nature reserve and the cricket club. They also argue that the old bridge was ‘near the end of its life’ and ‘not in a good condition’ and the new bridge would last for the next 120 years.
The site currently has outline permission for a housing development and full planning permission for access to the site.
A separate – full – planning application for the housing element of the Airedale Mills scheme has been submitted by different parties – Casa by Moda and Caddick Construction. It is expected to be decided at a plans panel meeting in July.
The proposals were due to be considered this month but have been pushed back after councillors asked for more information about the housing scheme, which has attracted more than 50 objections.
Residents can view the details of the full application and make comments online at https://publicaccess.leeds.gov.uk and search for reference 21/09266/RM.