Local resident Austen Jones has stepped up his campaign for a replacement footbridge and cycleway over the Hayes rail link at Catford Green, the site of the old Catford Greyhound stadium.
Lewisham council decided in September last year to redirect funding secured from the redevelopment of the former greyhound stadium to pedestrian improvements around Catford Bridge Station rather than a promised replacement footbridge.
In a statement the council said a replacement bridge had proved “unfeasible …due to the complexities and costs associated with making such a crossing accessible for disabled residents.
It went on: “Providing a footbridge with an accessible ramp would not have been possible, as the length of the ramp would have extended too far along Doggett Road .”
It also said there was less demand for a bridge because Holbeach School on Doggett Road no longer needed to use a building on the Catford Green development for its nursery provision.
But Austen’s determined local campaign has now won the support of Catford residents and Bellingham Cllr Alan Hall.
Austen wants developer Barratt to stand by the original s106 obligation to reinstate the bridge it demolished when it redeveloped the former stadium site for housing.
He has raised legal compliance concerns over the council’s decision to redirect funding and is seeking the support of three Rushey Green councillors.He has also asked the council’s chief legal officer, Lewisham’s Director at Law, to respond to his claims of “unresolved legal compliance issues.”
Austen says Freedom of Information requests suggest that at no point has Lewisham or Barratt attempted to contact Network Rail about bridge design issues despite claims that Network Rail had opposed various designs because of disability discrimination issues and problems due to proposed size.
Austen is asking people to support his campaign by messaging Lewisham council with the following:
firstname.lastname@example.org [cc’ email@example.com]
Subject: Catford’s missing bridge. Text: I support the reinstatement of Catford’s proposed bridge to link Catford Green over to Doggett Road and I request a copy of the Council’s response to and arising from a letter written to the Council on this matter dated January 12 2021 when issued.”
A full copy of Austen’s letter can be found on his dedicated Facebook site.
The full council statement said: “Following careful consideration, the Council determined that the previously discussed option of a footbridge over the Hayes railway line between Doggett Road and Catford Green was unfeasible. This was due to the complexities and costs associated with making such a crossing accessible for disabled residents.
“Providing a footbridge with an accessible ramp would not have been possible, as the length of the ramp would have extended too far along Doggett Road. Alternative design options were also considered, such as a footbridge with lift access at either end. However, the development and maintenance costs of a footbridge with lift access far exceeded the available funding, making this option financially unviable.
“Furthermore, anticipated demand for a footbridge at this location has changed since the original agreement. While Holbeach School (located on Doggett Road) had originally planned to use a building on the Catford Green development for their nursery provision, the school now uses a different building for their nursery provision. As a result, there is now less demand for a footbridge linking these two locations.
“The Section 106 funding secured from the Catford Green development will instead be redirected to pedestrian improvements around Catford Bridge Station and Catford Station to create a safe and welcoming space for local residents. This reallocation of funding was approved by Mayor and Cabinet in September 2020.”