Story of a new bridge - Peters Bridge
Source: Steve Loader
A new £19 million road bridge over the River Medway has been named 'Peters Bridge' after the local family that ran the former Peters cement works and inspired the new 1,000-home Peters Village community to be built on the same location.
The bridge links the new development by Trenport Investments to a much wider region, including London, benefiting jobs, education and recreation in Peters Village and neighbouring settlements on both banks: Wouldham, Burham, Eccles, Halling and Snodland.
Creating the site’s infrastructure, including the elegant bridge and a further crossing of the rail line on the west bank, has cost £50 million, including £19.5 million of loan funding from the Government’s Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).
The development has made use of a brown field site, the former Peters Lime and Cement Works and quarries that once employed 1,000 people and operated 80 barges, but closed in the 1920s and became an eyesore amidst disused chalk quarries left by the cement workings.
The Peters name is now reborn as a community with its own village hall and playing fields, medical centre and shops. There is also an all-new primary school; originally planned for the new community itself, the governors and staff of the nearby Wouldham primary school applied to re-locate to the Peters Village site.
Trenport MD Tony Parson explained: “As a result of Wouldham’s initiative and negotiation with the education authority, Kent County Council, plans for the new school at Peters Village were expanded and Wouldham pupils will move there in due course, gaining new space, facilities and a quality of school life higher than that of the old Victorian-era building - though much-loved, it had become obsolete.”
From the start, Trenport pledged that Peters Village would not be “just a new estate”. After acquiring the land in 2001, it set about realising a vision outlined by the Medway Gap Local Plan of the 1980s, and made more urgent by later Government calls for new homes in the south east.
Trenport’s plan proposed a large development with new roads, shops, amenities and open spaces, dovetailing with neighbouring villages on both banks of the River Medway, and Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council (TMBC) gave approval in 2006, only for it to be mothballed due to the 2008 recession.
But with the assistance of the £19.5 million loan from the HCA’s Local Infrastructure Fund, work started in May 2014 and has been completed to a high quality and on time by Trenport’s site contractor Bam Nuttall. The biggest element was the major new road from the A228 roundabout between Halling and Snodland on the west bank, and using the new bridge to the east bank.
“So the river bridge was the key to everything,” explained Tony Parson. “This point of the Medway was once linked by a pedestrian ferry and briefly, during World War II, by a Bailey Bridge.
“But it has now been transformed permanently; those moving into Peters Village are gaining a rural setting with all the modern requirements of easy communications.”
He added that Trenport had also set the bar high on the development’s quality: “We revised parking allocations for the housing Phase 1 application to exceed county council recommendations, and we re-worked the roads system and liaised with bus operators to avoid the congestion that Wouldham village had suffered in particular, due to parked cars.
“We also applied for detailed planning permission ourselves on Phases 1 and 2, after listening to local views on matters including building heights and parking. Our aim was to blueprint a new community that is visually interesting and characterful. It includes the riverside promenade and bespoke lighting - a showpiece for the entire community.
“And that community has been carefully balanced: 250 of the 1,000 homes in Peters Village will be an affordable mix of homes for rent and shared ownership. This will aid people hoping to stay near family members in neighbouring villages rather than moving away, or looking for a home larger than had previously been available. Local people on a council housing waiting list will also get priority on affordable units.
Two leading UK housebuilders, Bellway and Orbit, are already onsite and Trenport expects the remaining Peters Village phases to be released over the next few years, with all housing completed by 2022.
The former Peters works land had been notorious for car dumping and fly-tipping, and blighted by motorcycle scramblers and ‘green-laning’ 4x4 drivers, but after acquisition in 2001, Trenport combined with local community groups, landowners and the police to curb anti-social behaviour.
Trenport’s Tony Parson said: "We have also worked hard in and around Peters Village to preserve and improve the habitats for a number of rare species including bats, orchids, the Great Crested Newt, Adonis Blue Butterfly and Marsh Mallow Moth."
Part of the site was designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Trenport has worked closely with the Government’s Natural England and the Kent Wildlife Trust (KWT) charity.
John Bennett, the Chief Executive of the Trust said: "We have worked with Trenport for 10 years. The company has been extremely supportive of the wildlife conservation work we have done in the area, and appreciates the need to preserve sensitive habitats of the chalk downs in this area."
Peters Village bridge factfile
* The bridge is valued at £19 million including construction, services and fees.
* It uses an elegant design that fits the surrounding countryside. The choice of concrete construction also upholds long term plans to create a fitting landmark for the area’s former industry.
* Due to local traffic sensitivities it was decided to build the concrete and steel structure in situ rather than transport large pre-fabricated components to the site.
* Two large temporary piers were built out from each bank so that heavy machinery could travel out over the water to assist construction.
* Coffer dams were used – barriers against the river waters – so that workers could work safely on the two oval bridge supports, while still allowing the river to flow freely.
* Vital statistics: the bridge is more than 18 double decker buses long (152.5m), the width of nearly two (13.7m) and carries a two-lane carriageway. The depth of the bridge superstructure ranges from 3.6m over the piers, to 1.4m at its shallowest.
Peters Village factfile
* The developed acreage is approximately 35.05 hectares (86.61 acres) or the equivalent of 43 soccer pitches - 11.1 hectares (27.3 acres) is public open space and able to accommodate more than 13 soccer pitches.
* The development is mostly low rise.
* A new local centre next to the river includes: villager hall/community centre and playing fields, medical centre, pharmacy, convenience store and smaller shops, plus office accommodation. There is also provision for a police office.
* This wide-ranging project also includes a primary school, open space and riverside walk.
* The scheme includes future protection and management for the Peters SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest)