Arthurian castle footbridge approved by Cornwall Council

Plans by English Heritage for an overseas footbridge to an Arthurian castle have been given the go-ahead by Cornwall Council, despite an objection by fellow government watchdog Natural England.

A visualisation of the Tintagel Footbridge. Credit: ® MRC, Ney & Partners & Emily Whitfield-Wicks.jpg
A visualisation of the Tintagel Footbridge. Credit: ® MRC, Ney & Partners & Emily Whitfield-Wicks.jpg

The full application proposes a pedestrian footbridge between the Cornish mainland, Tintagel Island and Tintagel Castle in the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

The island’s 12th century ruined castle, a Scheduled Ancient Monument, is associated with the legend of King Arthur.

The plan, submitted by English Heritage following a design competition, was approved by the council’s strategic planning committee yesterday.

According to the officers’ report, the steel footbridge would consist of two cantilevers, each about 33 metres long and 3 metres wide. The proposal also includes cliff stabilisation works to a section of cliff on the mainland.

Natural England and the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Unit both objected to the scheme on the grounds of its visual and environmental impact.

Natural England said the applicant has "not been able to demonstrate the proposal will not have a significant impact on the purposes of designation of the Cornwall AONB", the report said.

Meanwhile, the Cornwall AONB Unit said the proposal "will cause significant harm" to the AONB and "significant adverse landscape and visual impacts" by introducing a "significant engineered structure into what is at the moment a natural landscape".

Cornwall planning officers said the proposal would "cause substantial landscape harm" to the AONB but decided that the harm would be "limited and localised". They concluded that the works would provide "much needed improvements to the accessibility to this unique historic site", helping the conservation of a designated heritage asset.

They also argued that the protection of Tintagel Castle from coastal erosion and securing its accessibility by a bridge is "a justified exceptional situation".

Further benefits would be reduced congestion around the site and potential local economic growth, the report said. In addition, the bridge’s "elegant, minimal design", reduced the "detrimental effect on the AONB".

According to English Heritage, the council's decision notice has been deferred while the communities secretary Sajid Javid decides whether to call in the application for determination. It follows a request from Cornwall AONB Unit that Javid calls in the application.

Liz Page, English Heritage’s historic properties director for the west, said: "We very much hope the secretary of state will endorse the committee’s decision. 

"The bridge will follow the original crossing between the mainland and island, help us to manage the pressure of visitors, and provide better access onto the island.

"Combined with the new footpaths, the bridge will also help us to protect important archaeological remains. The bridge has been designed to be an object of beauty, sensitively balanced with the surrounding landscape."

The application has now been referred to the secretary of state. 

The report can be found here.


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