Planning consent granted for the Iron Tram Bridge repair scheme
Written by Gavin on 26th June 2023
Rhondda Cynon Taf Council has received planning permission for its revised repair scheme to the Iron Tram Bridge near Robertstown – enabling work to sympathetically restore and reinstate the Scheduled Ancient Monument to start this summer.
The Council has also received Scheduled Monument Consent for the scheme, which will enable work to start on site in July – for completion later in 2023.
The Planning and Development Committee considered the Council’s planning application on Thursday, June 22, to make alterations and to reinstate the Grade II Listed structure. The bridge was in a poor condition before receiving further damage in Storm Dennis (February 2020). Working closely with Cadw, the bridge’s restoration is very complex to preserve its cultural significance.
The original bridge was constructed in the early 1800s, manufactured by the Abernant Foundry to carry the tramroad to Trecynon. It now carries a Public Right of Way over the River Cynon near the A4059 Meirion Street roundabout.
Following Storm Dennis, the bridge was removed to start a repair scheme after Scheduled Monument Consent was initially granted. However, upon closer inspection away from site, a specialist contractor found the bridge’s condition to be worse than anticipated. In March 2023, the Council announced that Walters Ltd is the appointed contractor for the revised repair scheme.
On Thursday, the planning committee agreed with officer recommendations to approve the application for the newly-designed scheme. A report by officers noted the plan will sympathetically reinstate the bridge, preserve the character of the site, support heritage and tourism, and improve connectivity locally.
The application is for a hybrid structure thought to be the most appropriate long-term solution for the bridge. It will reinstate virtually all of the original structural elements, allowing them to be displayed as originally intended. Modern components will be used to guarantee longevity and preservation.
The original iron cast beams and deck plates will be reinstated. Three load-bearing structural frames will be added to transfer the deck away from the beams – painted black to match the original elements. The beams will be repaired, along with the handrail bearing the maker’s mark. Deck plate hooks will be attached to the beams as an aesthetic feature. The abutments will be largely unaltered, with some stonework removed to accommodate the new structural elements. Parapets will be included at the top of each abutment.
The scheme will also include installation of a free-standing collision protection beam upstream of the bridge, to prevent objects from striking the structure.
Councillor Andrew Morgan OBE, Leader of Rhondda Cynon Taf Council and Cabinet Member for Infrastructure and Investment, said:
“Securing full planning permission to sympathetically alter and reinstate the Iron Tram Bridge is an important milestone. The bridge was in a poor condition before the unprecedented weather of Storm Dennis caused further damage – and the Council remains committed to investing in the Scheduled Ancient Monument’s restoration as a culturally-significant and historical structure in the community.
“The planning permission is for a revised scheme, which was redesigned on the advice of specialist contractors following an inspection after the bridge was removed. The process has therefore taken longer than first thought, but it is important to get this scheme right to best preserve the structure’s history.
“With full planning permission and the Scheduled Monument Consent now received, officers are preparing for work to get underway on site in the weeks ahead. The exact start date and site arrangements will be communicated to residents soon, with the scheme aiming for completion later this year.
“Funding for this scheme is included within a major programme of Storm Dennis repairs in 2023/24, for which the Welsh Government is supporting with major investment. Other schemes being progressed using this funding are the Castle Inn Bridge in Treforest, Berw Road (White Bridge) in Pontypridd, the Feeder Pipe Footbridge in Abercynon, and Tynybryn Footbridge in Tonyrefail.”