Bringing nature closer to home

PUBLISHED: 12:16 30 March 2006 | UPDATED: 11:39 04 May 2010

LANDMARK DESIGN: How the Bridge of Reeds could look when completed.

LANDMARK DESIGN: How the Bridge of Reeds could look when completed.

AN ambitious competition to create a major landmark which would put the east of England on the map fired the imagination of designers across the world. More than 230 entries were received from individuals and companies anxious to be chosen to give the reg

PATH TO NATURE: The Bridge of Reeds design was inspired by wind blown reeds and flights of birds in this area.
Pictures: SUPPLIED

AN ambitious competition to create a major landmark which would put the east of England on the map fired the imagination of designers across the world. More than 230 entries were received from individuals and companies anxious to be chosen to give the region national and international recognition.

One of the four successful ideas chosen in the Landmark East competition was a £14 million Bridge of Reeds which would link the city of Cambridge with the countryside at Wicken Fen.

Lesley Innes looks at the project as the public consultation draws to a close and plans for the bridge are being finalised.

AN iconic bridge of reeds spanning the A14 and connecting Cambridge with thousands of acres of green space, cycle routes and footpaths up to Wicken Fen has been designed as an important landmark for the east of England.

The bridge will be 177 feet tall and has been inspired by the wind blown reeds and flights of birds in the area's dramatic landscape.

It will be built on the route of the disused railway, which linked Cambridge to Burwell, and will be seen by 60,000 people a day.

The Bridge of Reeds will link the city of Cambridge with the countryside of Wicken Fen through a nine-mile network of footpaths, cycleways and bridleways which will also take people to Anglesey Abbey, Milton Country Park and Devil's Dyke.

It will also help to promote the Wicken Fen Vision - a long-term project to create 10,000 acres of species-rich fenland which will provide an important site for nature conservation and a new visitor attraction. There will also be a visitor centre built using sustainable materials.

By 2016, 46,500 new homes will have been built in the Greater Cambridge area and the project is seen as providing an important 'green lung' for residents.

Jonathon Porritt, environmental campaigner and founder of Forum for the Future, which works with businesses and government to promote sustainable development, said: "The Bridge of Reeds is going to be an enormously important landmark for the east of England.

"Too often people take for granted the precious natural habitats in and around our cities. The Cambridge area is thriving, one of the fastest areas for development in the country, as so it is more crucial than ever that nature reserves such as Wicken Fen and the surrounding countryside are valued and even greater access is provided for people in local communities.

"The expanded Wicken Fen Vision and the major linking bridge from city to countryside will help to protect that environment and keep the connection with the natural world in people's everyday lives."

Residents have been asked for their views on the Bridge of Reeds through questionnaires sent to households in villages within an eight mile radius of the area.

Public consultation workshops have also been held and there is an on-line poll at www.bridgeofreeds.org.uk which carries more information about the project.

Alternatively, anyone interested can email comments to info@bridgeofreeds.org.uk or send details to Wicken Fen Nature Reserve, Lode Lane, Wicken, Ely, Cambridgeshire, CB7 5XP for further information or to join the mailing list.

Philip Broadbent-Yale, Cambridgeshire area manager for the National Trust which runs Wicken Fen, said: "The comments we received at the public consultation workshops were very encouraging. There was a lot of excitement about the project, particularly the opportunities it will provide for residents to get out and explore the countryside on their bikes, on foot or on horseback.

"All the feedback we receive will help us plan for the future and make our plans more closely match what residents tell us matters to them.

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