Landmark bridge set for demolition
An iconic Victorian railway bridge is to be demolished after objectors lost a three-day court battle.
Leicester City Council was yesterday granted an order to close a public footpath over the Bowstring Bridge, in Leicester's West End – the last hurdle before it can be demolished.
The Bowstring Bridge
More than 6,000 people had signed petitions to save the bridge, in Braunstone Gate.
It was made into a footpath over the River Soar in 1985, but closed in 2000 because of safety fears.
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During the hearing at Leicester Magistrates' Court, Leicester Civic Society, The Victorian Society, Industrial History Society, Footpaths Association, Ramblers Association, cycling organisation Cyclemagic and residents all argued the bridge should be saved.
However, District Judge John Stobart granted the city council's application for a "stopping order".
Objectors admitted their battle had been an uphill one.
The bridge was recently rejected by English Heritage for listed status and the city council had no legal obligation to maintain it.
Judge Stobart said: "The city council has been open and realistic. It has created an alternative route under the bridge, however mundane by comparison.
"It follows that – not without a heavy heart – I grant the application for the stopping order."
With the bridge gone, De Montfort University will be able to press ahead with plans for a £6 million swimming pool and sports centre.
It said the centre would be would be open to members of the public.
The development is also expected to include the demolition of the Pump and Tap pub, in Duns Lane.
John Husain, who owns the pub, said: "We didn't go down without a fight. I hope this makes the council more considerate of the city's history and people's feelings before it does this sort of thing in the future.
"We still don't know the future of the pub or what De Montfort University plans to do.
"Hopefully, this fight has made the university more mindful of the extent of public concern."
Stuart Bailey, of Leicester Civic Society, said: "It was a close-run thing. It's scandalous the city council is prepared to play fast and loose with the city's heritage.
"Based on the number of objectors, it was quite clear the people of Leicester wanted the bridge to be maintained and restored."
Gaz Hunt, 37, who attended the hearing, said: "It was a foregone conclusion, in my opinion.
"It's a unique feature of the area and a unique piece of engineering. It won't be the same without it."
The city council said demolition was not imminent.
A university spokeswoman said: "The court decision only determines the right of way issue. We cannot make any decision until the future of the bridge is determined."