The Borough of Poole (Poole Harbour Opening Bridges) - Inspectors Report

3. The Case of the Council

The material points are:

3.1 Background

3.1.1 Poole Bridge over the BWC forms part of the main road route into Poole town centre from the west. It is a lifting bridge, opened in 1927, and is the third to be built on the site.

3.1.2 The people of Poole have campaigned for more than 30 years for a new crossing to meet the manifest inadequacies of the existing bridge. Among the problems are that its lifting interferes unacceptably with the flow of road traffic, creating long queues on both sides of the bridge. Annual Average Daily Traffic ("AADT") flows in 2004 across the bridge amounted to some 17,500 vehicles. Queuing traffic not infrequently tails back to the Towngate Bridge, and blocks parts of Poole town centre. The queuing traffic causes unacceptable levels of noise and local air pollution.

3.1.3 The bridge lifts create severe severance. Residents of Hamworthy wishing to travel to Poole, a centre-to-centre distance of only some 3 kilometres via Poole Bridge, must either risk long delays by using the bridge, or travel round Holes Bay, an overall distance of about 11 kilometres. There are significant additional fuel and other costs arising both from queuing and from choosing the longer route to avoid the risk of delay. Emergency services face similar dilemmas and delays: reliability of response often requires the 11-kilometre diversion round the north of Holes Bay to be undertaken. The bridge lifting causes disruption to bus services, and there are significant disbenefits to local businesses.

3.1.4 The bridge, built for the traffic conditions of some 80 years ago, is of inadequate width to allow simultaneously crossing east- and west-bound HGVs to pass safely, and it is dangerous and intimidating for pedestrians and cyclists, creating significant severance even when the bridge is open to road traffic. HGVs avoiding the Bridge cause severe noise, vibration and severance impacts along the B3068 Blandford Road in Hamworthy and Upton to its north. There is currently a partial HGV restriction along the B3068, and the construction of the new bridge would enable this to be extended to 24 hours.

3.1.5 The Port of Poole is considered to be the second busiest in the South West after Avonmouth and is part of the Trans European Network. Traffic to and from the Port relies on the existing lifting bridge for access to the national road network, the alternative being the inadequate B3068 through Hamworthy and Upton. Passengers disembarking by vehicle from the Cross Channel Ferry at the Port of Poole not infrequently face delays of up to an hour before being able to leave the vicinity.

3.1.6 The bridge lifting timetable causes significant unnecessary delays through its inflexibility. The bridge is required by Order to be lifted at up to 9 fixed times each day (see paragraph 3.9.3). The timetable can be changed only by further Order. That a more flexible system is to be desired can be judged from the fact that, in 2004, there were 3,093 bridge lifts (92% of the total) when fewer than 20 vessels transited. In 2003 and 2004, for 63% of the year fewer than 50 vessels per day transited the bridge, potentially spread over at least 7 scheduled bridge lifts.

3.1.7 In the 1990s, a proposal, known as the "long bridge crossing" was included in the national Trunk Road Programme. The proposal was for a fixed bridge from the power station site across Holes Bay. It would have linked Hamworthy directly with the A350 north of Poole on the north-eastern side of the Bay. This was primarily intended to improve access to the Port. The proposal was abandoned in 1997, following the then new government's review of the Trunk Road Programme. It was made clear that any central government support for a scheme to address the limitations of the existing bridge would be expressed through the new regime of Local Transport Plans ("LTP").

3.1.8 The Council decided, in view of widespread support for a second crossing, to promote its own scheme.

Back to top