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National recognition for North Northamptonshire bridge scheme that connects communities with historic site

Culture and tourism

29 June 2023

Chester House new bridge

An engineering project that saw two new bridges connect North Northamptonshire Council’s Chester House Estate with the heart of Wellingborough and beyond has been Commended at a prestigious national award.

The Kier Highways scheme which opened in October last year received the accolade in the Infrastructure category in the finals of the Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation (CIHT) awards.

Entitled - Building Bridges, Building Communities: Kier’s creative pedestrian bridges solution – the structures focus on accessibility and connecting communities.

The wider decks, low profile ramp approaches, and handrails on both sides make the bridges safer and more accessible for everyone, particularly those with disabilities. 

One bridge is across the River Nene, replacing an old burnt-out structure that connects Chester House Estate to the Wellingborough embankment and is key to the future Greenway active-travel project. The previous bridge had been closed to the public for the past 15 years.

The second bridge is smaller and goes across the Chester House stream with both structures forming part of a right of way, connecting Wellingborough to Irchester.

I’m delighted that this project has been recognised at a national level as, what initially appears to be quite a straightforward scheme was actually a highly complex and sophisticated solution.

It was a very challenging project due to the nature of the area, which is a flood plain and includes the scheduled monument at Chester House. The team have had very strict guidelines to follow including having to lay an access road to protect the archaeology below.

We would like to thank Historic England, Natural England, The Environment Agency and Kier and its contractors for their efforts getting this challenging project completed.
Cllr Graham Lawman, North Northamptonshire Council’s Executive Member for Highways, Travel and Assets
Despite the complex challenges we faced throughout the project, our team of experts were able to successfully deliver the infrastructure to connect people and communities. 

This is all while balancing the expectations of the local residents and ensuring we preserved the protected land. We are proud to have delivered these new bridges that will have a positive impact for the local community for years to come.
John Coombes, general manager at Kier Highways

For the project to succeed it had to balance preserving the natural and historic environment with providing better transport links, resulting in a positive impact on the local community. 

The estate is English Heritage status, Scheduled Monument, SSSI, RAMSAR wetland of international importance, and a Special Protection Area for birds. 

The project required over a year of consulting, planning, and design to ensure it integrated with the natural and historic environment. 

The project team collaborated with various stakeholders, including Historic England, The Environment Agency, and a paleo archaeologist from the University of Wales, to meet the diverse needs of the scheme.