£800,000 spent on defunct bridge project for St Neots

An artist's impression of the proposed St Neots bridge.

An artist's impression of the proposed St Neots bridge. - Credit: Archant

Mayor Palmer is now asking people in the town what they would like to spend the money on.

Hundreds of thousands of pounds have been spent on plans for a new bridge in St Neots, which will now not go ahead.

Authorities in Cambridgeshire have spent £800,000 on plans for a new pedestrian bridge in the town, the Hunts Post can reveal.

Proposals for a new bridge in St Neots were approved by the Combined Authority Board in June 2018 but have since been pulled after the board has ruled that it would 'not offer value for money'.

However, last month the mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority James Palmer said that the bridge would now cost £7.4million, 2.4million pounds more than estimated.

This funding was to be contributed by the combined authority as part of the £4.1million package of funding for the first phase of the St Neots Masterplan, where the combined authority would contribute £3.1 million towards the £4.6million scheme for a new cycle and footbridge.

In a report received by the transport and infrastructure committee on Friday (March 6) it was revealed that the project had spent £800,000 of the funding from the £1.2million section 106 funding allocation to date.

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It is understood that the money has been spent on consultation costs, early design, architects report, ground investigation, environmental reports, flood modelling, design, contractors feasibility report, preparation for planning application and environmental impact assessment scoping report. According to the county council work was due to start on the bridge in October.

The report states: 'The forecast of the £7.4million compromises construction costs of £6.4million, the associated costs of £1m including completion of design, planning and CCC project costs.'

Speaking to the Hunts Post, mayor Palmer has said that he keen to use the funding for other projects in St Neots.

'This is a very simple situation, St Neots is our biggest market town and we want what is best for it. When we looked at how much the bridge plans would cost, we realised that it was going to be around £8million, which is a lot more than expected.'

'Well I obviously see what people say on social media, what they tell me and what I read in the press and I know that this bridge was not popular with everyone, and I think that we did the right thing. We haven't pulled the plans because of that though, we have realised that the cost just isn't good value for money.'

Mayor Palmer has now said that he will consult with people in the town to make sure that the money will be spent within St Neots.

'I want t make it clear that this money is going to be used for St Neots and that is why I want to speak to as many people as possible about it. There's been some suggestion that it could be used to re-open the Old Falcon pub, which is something we will consider.'

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Email katie.ridley@archant.co.uk with your comments.