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Construction begins for access road and bridge to Chelmer Waterside

Panoramic of river Chelmer and Essex Records Office

Construction work to build a new bridge and road that will provide access to a new Chelmsford city centre neighbourhood will soon be under way. The new bridge is an important first step before going ahead with the Chelmer Waterside redevelopment.  

Chelmer Waterside is a brownfield site near to the city’s waterways, which includes the old gasworks. Located just five minutes from the city centre, the site could provide space for up to 1,200 new homes, with some homes already built.

Bailey bridge
The Bailey Bridge is due to be stored and replaced with a larger bridge and access road to the Chelmer Waterside development

Expanding vehicle access to Chelmer Waterside

The new access road and bridge will cross the river Chelmer and connect Wharf Road with Parkway. The new access road and bridge will provide another access route to the neighbourhood and alleviate pressure at the junction of Navigation Road and Springfield Road. The project will also improve cycling and walking routes nearby.

The new single span bridge has been designed to carry pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles accessing the new neighbourhood.  The road will have a width restriction and a 20mph speed limit with traffic calming in place, to ensure the road is only used for access into the site, not as a through route. There will also be traffic calming measures in place on nearby Wharf Road.

The bridge has been designed as a bowstring tied arch in Corten steel to reflect the former industrial heritage of Chelmer Waterside. It will connect into the city’s cycle network, plus will allow room for boats using the waterways to pass underneath. Work is expected to finish in spring 2025.

Cllr Stephen Robinson, Leader of Chelmsford City Council is pleased further work is being undertaken to regenerate the Chelmer Waterside neighbourhood:

“This new bridge is a vital first step to creating a new neighbourhood. It is crucial to invest in infrastructure ahead of development so that existing communities benefit from new development. It’s important that we build on brownfield sites when we can, and conversations about regenerating the Chelmer Waterside area have been happening for around 30 years. I’m pleased that we are now getting on with it.

“Chelmer Waterside is located alongside the city’s waterways, just minutes from the city centre and they have been one of Chelmsford’s “hidden assets”. It makes sense to turn this area into a desirable community where people can live and work, and in particular, building affordable homes. This road and bridge will create better public access to Chelmer Waterside so we can bring the site forward for development.”

Cllr Stephen Robinson, Leader of Chelmsford City Council

Addressing housing concerns for Chelmsford

Chelmsford is experiencing a housing crisis, with homes in short supply at a price that people can afford. Demand exceeds supply and market rents and housing costs are at an all-time high.

Chelmsford City Council’s Local Plan has allocated the whole of the Chelmer Waterside area for housing-led development. To achieve this, the city council developed a planning framework to show how the land could be developed in a co-ordinated and connected way. The area consists of a number of different sites which come together as one new neighbourhood: Chelmer Waterside. 35% of the Chelmer Waterside homes will be designated as affordable housing.

Housing developer Taylor Wimpey has already completed over 400 homes in the area, with more still to be built on land the other side of Waterside.

The start of the bridge’s construction is the second key piece of infrastructure to unlock Waterside. Works are already advancing to relocate the Gas Pressure Reduction System (GPRS) from the former gas works site. Relocating the GPRS will enable the city council to deliver more housing on this prime city centre site.

Cllr Lynne Foster, Cabinet Member for a Fairer Chelmsford, hopes others can see the benefit to building on unused brownfield land:

“This is a long-term programme to turn an unused part of the city into an attractive and pleasant place that people will want to live and spend time in. The building of the access road and bridge will be much quicker, completed in approximately 18 months, but it’s important to keep the longer-term aspiration in mind. We can create an appealing new city centre neighbourhood in an area that is not fulfilling its current potential.”

Cllr Lynne Foster, Cabinet Member for a Fairer Chelmsford

Temporary diversions in place during the construction

GRAHAM has been contracted to complete the work to the new bridge and access road. During the first few weeks of construction, the contractor will:

  • establish a site compound in Baddow Road Car Park and the former gas works site off Wharf Road
  • divert footpaths and cycleways where necessary to create a safe construction site (these routes will be fully signed and have been approved by Essex County Council.)
  • dismantle the existing Bailey Bridge (which will require a temporary closure of the river Chelmer). The bridge will be stored safely until a new home is found for it. 

Regarding the announcement of GRAHAM’s appointment, Contracts Manager, John Deery said:

“We are delighted to have been appointed by Chelmsford City Council to deliver this hugely beneficial project. Our journey so far has been marked by true collaboration, working with statutory and local authorities to design and develop this scheme.

“The construction of the new access road and bridge over the river Chelmer will pave the way to a new neighbourhood, providing long-term benefits to the area. Upon completion, the single span bow string bridge will create access to new housing sites and has been designed to accommodate pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicles while ensuring uninterrupted passage for boats navigating the waterways.

“As experts in the field of civil engineering, our team will be on hand to deliver the access road and bridge safely and efficiently. We’re looking forward to playing our part in this transformational scheme and leaving a lasting legacy in Chelmsford.”

John Deery, Contracts Manager for GRAHAM
Chelmer Waterside view from Bailey Bridge

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Charlotte Maltby
Charlotte Maltby

Charlotte writes about the environment, parks, recycling, business, planning, public realm and democratic services.