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.