Julia Lopez MP and team work for Pages Wood Bridge Replacement.

Harold Wood residents have expressed their frustration at the closure of the ‘rainbow bridge’ that connects their local park with Pages Wood and which has been condemned as an unsafe structure. 

Residents seeking to enter Pages Wood from Harold Wood park have had to use a diversion via the summer meadow which has become treacherous in wet weather and has severely limited the accessibility of Pages Wood.

Since the bridge was first closed, Hornchurch and Upminster’s MP, Julia Lopez, has engaged frequently with Forestry England, who manage Pages Wood and are responsible for the bridge, to represent constituents’ concerns at the closure of the bridge and to offer any assistance that she may provide to bring about its replacement.

Unfortunately, works to replace the bridge have not progressed as swiftly as had been hoped and this is partly due to the information which must be gathered to support an application for permissions from the Environment Agency to work on a watercourse.

Following recent discussion, the Council called a meeting of stakeholders to discuss the project including Mrs Lopez’s office. At the meeting, Forestry England confirmed that an application had been made to the Environment Agency to remove the existing structure however the Environment Agency had requested additional information from contractors which is currently being obtained. 

As soon as this has been provided Mrs Lopez shall be making her own representations to DEFRA Ministers and the Chair of the Environment Agency to highlight both her own and the community’s interest in this application and request the application be swiftly considered.  It is anticipated that the current structure will be removed before the end of the financial year and plans for the replacement bridge are currently under development to ensure that they can be implemented.

In the meantime, the Council are laying plaining materials across the diversion which, while not making the diversion as accessible as the original route, will greatly improve the safety of the route in wet conditions. These works are anticipated to be completed during week commencing 17 January.

Mrs Lopez said: “My team and I will continue to maintain close contact with Forestry England and will provide whatever support we can to this project. We are keen to ensure that the bridge is replaced as soon as it possibly can be so that residents can continue to enjoy the beauty that Pages Wood and Harold Wood park have to offer. I look forward to the Environment Agency receiving their required information so that I can make further representations to DEFRA and the Chair of the environment Agency on this crucial community asset.’’

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