FURIOUS parish councillors have slammed English Heritage as ‘public vandals’ after changes were made to an application for repairs to their historic bridge.
Extensive structural work is under way to re-strengthen Rothbury’s main road bridge.
Plans have been approved by Northumberland County Council under permitted development rights, which meant that the parish council was not consulted.
Those plans originally included restoring the bridge’s parapets to their pre-1909 state. But at last week’s Rothbury Parish Council meeting, members heard that English Heritage had decided to change the application to what they wanted.
Chairman of the parish council, Coun Peter Dawson said: “Despite what we requested and what the community requested English Heritage decided to change it.
“This parish council was in discussion with engineers on the design and the parapet walls.
“But then we find out that the application has been submitted and approved without informing ourselves.”
He added: “The finished works on this bridge need to be the very best that can be achieved.
“But the application has been dealt with under permitted development rights and as formal consultees on the planning application we were not notified.
“I would expect with an application as important as this, an issue which the whole community will have to live with for a long time, would have been decided by the development control committee.”
Coun Dawson reiterated his comments in a letter to county chief executive, Steve Stewart.
In a reply from the director of local services, Caroline Bruce, said that the county council was aware of public opinion but said English Heritage had to approve it for the work to be carried out.
Coun Jeff Reynalds said: “English Heritage has acted as public vandals. We wanted the best possible, fine and graceful lines like we had before the 1909 desecration of the bridge. I think it is absolutely disgraceful that English Heritage has done this.”
Coun Robin Murray added: “I think we need to put it in to the appeals procedure. We are not happy with this and it doesn’t matter about the length of time it takes.”
The council is to appeal against the permitted application and ask the county council to put another application in for the parapets that were decided on by the community.