Wimborne Waitrose bridge application to go before planners
A REVISED application has been submitted to East Dorset District Council for the pedestrian link bridge which was made a condition of approval of Wimborne's Waitrose supermarket linking the attached riverside park to Crown Mead.
The application by the John Lewis partnership is for 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 for public safety.
Waitrose property development communications manager James Armstrong said: "We have added ramps at both ends of the bridge to make access more convenient for all parties."
Waitrose Wimborne manager Ian Burdekin said: "I am pleased that we are progressing towards the bridge being built in the near future."
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The original detailed application, approved in April 2010, attracted a number of objections from members of the public, on the grounds that an alternative footbridge already existed and that the new one was unlikely to be used by shoppers at Waitrose.
There was also concern that it would be dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists at the point where it met the grassed area, but Wimborne Civic Society felt the additional facility was needed.
Wimborne Chamber of Trade and Commerce met on Tuesday night, and the application was raised under 'any other business'.
chairman Eileen Worth said: "We can't really say no to the ramp which will make it easier than the steps originally proposed for people in wheelchairs and with pushchairs, or to the lights in what is a very dark area.
"But I can't really understand why they want it at all when there is another footbridge nearby, and traders in East Street feel that if the second bridge was put in it would take more trade away from them.
"There is now additional parking in East Street, which has a good selection of interesting shops.
"And while we know we cannot please all the people all the time, Waitrose has brought a lot of new businesses into Wimborne, mainly in the High Street and Square, and without it the town could have had a lot of empty shops."
Eileen added that at the meeting the Chamber said they welcomed the amendments (ramps and lighting) as being something the public had asked for, but that there was a suggestion that permission might also be given/sought for a sign indicating 'shops this way' encouraging people into the town.
She said she would bring up the matter at the BID meeting next week.
Butcher Paul Keating in East Street said: "It's true we have plenty of parking now, but we have lots of independent traders in Wimborne, and the bridge will just link one supermarket with another and deter people from accessing the town any other way. I can't see why it's needed - Waitrose could better spend their money on other things."
Wimborne BID has a board meeting next Wednesday at which the revised application is likely to be considered, and Wimborne Town Clerk Lawrence Hewitt said the application had been notified to members for comment which had not yet been communicated to the district council. Nicci Brown