New proposals to maintain access to Darley Abbey Mills

Published: 7 September 2023

metal footbridge spanning over river.

The bridge was installed in 2022 on a hire basis.

Derby City Council is looking at proposals to keep bridge access to Darley Abbey Mills open. Cabinet will consider purchasing the temporary Walter’s Walkway, when it meets next week.

The prefabricated bridge was installed on a hire basis when the Darley Abbey Toll Bridge was closed in 2022. It was expected to be in place for 12 months, but more time is needed to find a long-term solution.

The original hire arrangement was funded by £500,000 of revenue reserves, however only £120,000 remains which will be exhausted by Autumn 2024 and continued hire would create an annual, unfunded revenue pressure of £111,000.

Purchasing the temporary structure would be achieved with £266,000 of existing Highways and Transport programme funding and would be financially better than continuing the current hire arrangement.

On top of the initial purchase would be ongoing costs of inspections and maintenance for five years, totalling £221,000 and paid for by the remaining £120,000 of the original funding. This leaves just £44,000 of revenue pressure a year from 2026/27.

The prefabricated bridge, named Walter’s Walkway following a naming competition, was installed after the existing Darley Abbey Toll Bridge was closed when engineers deemed it unsafe.

The original bridge is not owned by the Council, but the importance of the link for the local community prompted Cabinet to approve the installation of the Walkway using powers under the Localism Act 2011.

Re-establishing this connection for pedestrians and cyclists is providing time to consider and develop a medium-term solution. Uncertainties over ownership, and financial pressures affecting a permanent solution, have led officers to investigate the option to purchase the temporary Walter’s Walkway.

Councillor Baggy Shanker, Leader of Derby City Council, said:

Walter’s Walkways is a vital connection for local people and the businesses at Darley Abbey Mills.

While the footbridge was planned as a temporary fix, external pressures, and the difficult financial position we inherited, have made this challenging. The purchase of the bridge would be financially prudent in the short term, and we will continue to work with all parties concerned to find a long-term solution.

We are committed to keeping access to the mills open and I want to thank the officers who have worked hard to prepare these new proposals.

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