Truro bridge plans in doubt as Town Deal fund is reduced by a third

Aerial image showing proposals at Lighterage Quay and Lighterage Hill
Aerial image showing proposals at Lighterage Quay and Lighterage Hill -Credit:PBWC Architects

The full raft of plans proposed to revitalise Cornwall's capital city thanks to £23.6 million of Government funding could now be in jeopardy. The concerns comes after the Truro Town Deal Board revealed the real value of the funding has reduced by a third.

CornwallLive understands that elements of the Towns Fund proposals which could be affected are either the plans to create a lifting bridge connecting the Newham and Boscawen Park parts of the city or a pedestrian bridge linking Town Quay to Garras Wharf car park.

Other projects to make Truro a "connected river city" include better design and use of Lemon Quay, a community hub, green transport links, new life for buildings in the city centre and a Boscawen Park sports and recreation hub.

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Alan Stanhope, chair of the Truro Town Deal Board, said: "The board and delivery team have been working with the increasing challenges of the impact of inflation to all elements of the Town Deal programme. With unprecedented cost increases in construction in recent years, we estimate the real value of the £23.6 million award has reduced by one third.

“The board exists to make decisions about which projects will continue to drive an economic and social benefit for Truro, and therefore some of our projects continue to evolve as we make best use of our resources. We are doing what we can to ensure this Government investment delivers for our residents, businesses and visitors.”

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An aerial image of proposed works to Lemon Quay, Town Quay and surrounding areas
An aerial image of proposed works to Lemon Quay, Town Quay and surrounding areas -Credit:PBWC Architects

There are concerns among many in Truro that the economic impact on the plans could mean one of the flagship elements, Lighterage Bridge, may not now be built. A planning application has already been submitted to Cornwall Council for a new 'bascule'-type lifting bridge which will connect Lighterage Quay at Newham with Boscawen Park.

It would allow the use of ferries, pleasure boats and commercial operations up the river including the possibility of a pop-up restaurant/café, and would be a major link in the Truro Loops scheme to provide a continuous pedestrian and cycle route loop around the city.

Sensing there may be problems ahead, Truro City Council recently voted to "inform the Town Deal Board and Cornwall Council, both the project ‘lead’ and accountable body, that the Lighterage Bridge should be regarded as a key priority project which, if necessary, should take precedence in the event that reductions to the programme have to be made due to changing financial circumstances".

The recommendation, brought by Cllr Loic Rich, recognised that "the community of Truro is, according to recent consultation, strongly supportive of the proposal to provide a bridge between Lighterage Quay and Boscawen Park. With benefits to both the future viability of the Newham Business Park and to the residential communities of Highertown (including Malabar), this is a project which, when completed, will provide long-lasting economic, health and amenity benefits to the whole town".

The results of a survey undertaken by the Truro Loops group, released on Monday (May 6), show there is overwhelming support for the Lighterage Bridge among people in the city.

Completed by almost 300 residents, the survey shows that a bridge linking Newham and Boscawen Park would encourage over 85 per cent of respondents to walk and cycle more, with over 40 per cent likely to use the bridge more than once a week and a further nearly 40 per cent at least once a month. Over 80 per cent also thought that the bridge would be beneficial for Truro's economy or their business.

A spokesperson for Truro Loops said: "Many of you said that this connection would really help to create better car free access, make a safer route and enable the connection between the two sides of the river, which would benefit residents, employees, employers and visitors. As someone said in the comments submitted with the survey - please don't take too long thinking about it, let's just get it done!"

CornwallLive understands that the majority of stakeholders would prefer for the less popular Town Quay element to be dropped. This proposal would see the quay on Morlaix Avenue linked to Garras Wharf car park by a pedestrian bridge to improve the Truro loop and visibility of the river.

The Truro Town Deal Board is likely to make a decision about the future of the plans on Thursday (May 9) at County Hall / Lys Kernow, Truro, at a meeting which isn't open to the press or public.

The impact of inflation and building costs on the Truro Town Deal programme follows a similar effect on the huge Pydar development in the city, which needed an emergency £10 million of extra funding from Cornwall Council last month in order for the scheme to move ahead.