Have Your Say – Lights Will Have Long Term Damage to Historic Bridge

An application for Listed Building Consent for removal of the present, unauthorized lights and permanent replacement lights, has been submitted to  Wokingham Borough Council by a Robert Drayton.

The bridge connects the Counties of Oxfordshire and Berkshire and has done so since 1786 when this Headington stone bridge, now Grade I listed, was built. Only 2 % of all LB are Grade I Listed and are deemed to be OF NATIONAL SIGNIFICANCE AND ARE OF GREAT IMPORTANCE TO THE NATION’S BUILT HERITAGE.  Therefore Historic England (formerly English Heritage) is being consulted and has a say in any decision on this matter regarding the proposed changes.

Who has not been consulted is Henley Town Council nor SODC, Nor OCC Highways; the first should be consulted at least as a near neighbour; whilst SODC should be involved in the whole planning process, as Wokingham can only be responsible for ‘their’ Berkshire part of the bridge. And what about Oxon CC Highways? Are they not the owners of the bridge, or part of it, and should an application for LBC not have been made by them together with Berkshire?  I think so

The planning legislation and Planning Advice (PPG 15) says that LPA are to have special regard to the desirability of preserving the building or its setting’, …  ‘ to protecting LB from unsuitable and insensitive alterations’ .

The proposals are for metal fixings to support the new strings of lights. These are to be inserted into the lime-mortar joints which are the vital ‘glue’ of any lime stone wall; without this essential lime mortar none of our circa pre-1900 buildings would now be standing.

However carefully and expertly this proposed work is done, every metal pin will create a small opening into the 240 year old lime-mortar, eventually allowing water to penetrate between it and the metal, causing long-term damage to the stone work.

No amount of future inspections, maintenance and repairs will change the fact that this proposal, if given the go-ahead, will cause long-term, irreversible harm to the fabric of this National Monument, which we are so very lucky to have and enjoy as our much loved local bridge.

Yours sincerely

Ruth Gibson

4 replies
  1. Clive Hemsley says:

    I have responded to Ruth Gibson and have hi- lighted my position
    Which I hope will be published and supported by your loyal readers

  2. wireless waffler says:

    Wokingham Council also need to sort out their part of the Thames Path, it is often strewn with Goose Droppings and in parts only a thin strip of cement or tarmac exists of the path. Robert Drayton should only have a say for half of the bridge as half presumably is out of county? Riparian rights etc. Who is Robert Drayton to request this anyway? . I suggest that a discrete self supportiing standlone framework needs to be built to support lights, thus negating the need to put any fixtures into the bridge. Historically I thought that Henley paid for the bridge to be constructed from the proceeds of tolls paid to cross it?

  3. PatsyK says:

    Thank you Ruth Gibson for your succinct summing up of the ongoing bridge ‘situation’. You have said everything I would have liked to, but didn’t have the knowledge. I do hope the powers that be will take notice of you and react accordingly.
    I am a ‘loyal reader’ but would not support anything published by Mr Hemsley. I think our lovely bridge should be left alone for future generations to enjoy as it always has been – without lights.

  4. Peter says:

    I think the majority of those employing any cerebral capability, would much prefer the future of this historic bridge to be left in the hands of the experts!


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