Fences are up, metal plates have been installed and signs are now in place for the temporary walkway across Sutton Harbour Lock while the pedestrian footbridge is closed for repairs.
Council staff have been working with Sutton Harbour Holdings plc on a temporary solution to help people get from A to B across a stretch of water that’s used by yachts and fishing boats coming in and out of the harbour.
Pedestrians will be routed across the inner lock gates and along quays via series of paths – including crossing the industrial inner lock gates. This temporary walkway will be in addition to the option of catching the daily Sutton Harbour Ferry Service or walking around East Quay and North Quay, which form the City Quarter and Leisure Quarter of Sutton Harbour.
It will not be suitable for wheelchairs or anyone with mobility issues as it involves steps and a narrow, single-file, adapted path crossing the inner lock gates, which were designed for maintenance access. However, single pushchairs, single prams and dismounted bicycles may be accommodated, subject to the discretion of the trained safety marshalls on duty managing the walkway..
It is hoped that the temporary walkway, when combined with the daily ferry service and the short walking route around the harbour, will make it easier for people to journey across Sutton Harbour while work continues to progress permanent repairs to the footbridge.
Council leader Tudor Evans said: “People have been very clear they want to get from A to B in the easiest way possible.
“It has been quite a challenge for all those involved to make this happen as we are taking pedestrians across areas of the lock which were not designed for public access. We are literally engineering a solution, and have been working closely with the team at Sutton Harbour Holdings plc to do so; we appreciate their support and cooperation in making this happen.”
The temporary walkway opens on the same day the Star Fish Trail is launched – a fun trail for families to learn about live under the waves. As well as the temporary walkway, people can catch the Sutton Harbour Ferry Service.
Permission to use the interior lock gates for a temporary new walkway has been granted by Sutton Harbour Holdings plc and public liability insurances are being put in place.
The temporary walkway will only be open for pedestrians when the lock gates are closed and no vessels are waiting to come through the lock. should boats arrive and need to use the lock, the walkway will have to close, and people may face waits of up to 30 to 40 minutes on either side for it to reopen. The walkway may also need to close for tidal and other operational issues.
Work is progressing on the permanent repairs. An agreement was reached in December 2017 between Plymouth City Council, the Environment Agency and Sutton Harbour Holdings plc to repair the custom-built footbridge, and these repairs are being commissioned by Plymouth City Council.
A contribution agreement has been reached between the Council, Sutton Harbour Holdings and the Environment Agency and Plymouth Waterfront Partnership have also contributed.
There have been delays due to the bespoke nature of the footbridge and a new bearing has to be manufactured for the bridge turntable. It will be a number of months before the bearing can be installed and the lock bridge fully operational.
The bridge across the lock was fitted over 20 years ago as part of the installation of the Sutton Harbour lock gates. Their main function is to manage flood risk and allow marine traffic, such as fishing boats, to enter Sutton Harbour. The lock gates remain fully operational to enable fishing boats and leisure boats to access the harbour.
The Sutton Harbour Ferry Service runs daily between Lockyers Quay and Barbican West Pier, and is subsidised by Sutton Harbour Holdings plc during peak school holiday periods. The ticket price is refunded for customers when they visit the NMA café or shop, or eat at Rockfish.
For daily updates for times for the ferry, run by Silverline Cruises, visit www.facebook.com/SuttonHarbourFerry