TIM Farron is calling for a round-table meeting to "knock heads together" to get a "vital" footbridge replaced.

Storm Desmond damaged Kendal's Gooseholme Bridge in December 2015, and for almost four years pedestrians and cyclists have been unable to cross the River Kent from Gooseholme to New Road.

This week Cumbria County Council warned of a potential year-long delay in plans to construct a new £1.65 million bridge in 2020, after two conservation groups raised concerns over ramp designs taking up too much common land.

Mr Farron, Westmorland and Lonsdale MP, wants all parties involved to find a way to ensure the replacement single-span bridge can be built next year.

He said news of a further 12-month setback would be "met with immense frustration by everyone in the town".

“This cannot be allowed to drag on any longer," said the MP. "Let’s get everyone in a room, knock some heads together and get this done - local people have waited long enough."

CCC has made common land applications to seek consent for ramps on New Road and Gooseholme Commons, giving access to walkers, pushchairs, mobility scooters and bicycles.

Friends of the Lake District (FOLD) and the Open Spaces Society (OSS) have welcomed the bridge and its accessibility for a range of users, but have raised concerns about the amount of "land take" required.

Dr Jan Darrall, policy officer at FOLD, said: “New Road Common has been transformed back into an enjoyable green space for the public since the cessation of car parking.

"The proposed ramps would remove a significant area of this valuable green space and sever the common.

"Our suggestion is the proposed ramp should be located to the north of the bridge, on land which has not been enhanced for public use, thereby protecting the bulk of the common for the public to enjoy."

Ian Brodie, common land adviser for the OSS in Cumbria, said everyone wanted to see the bridge replaced. He said the society was not objecting, but it had "serious" concerns about the public's enjoyment of New Road Common being limited.

He said that if the Environment Agency's proposed flood defence wall followed on from the current ramp design, then "approaching one-third or half" of the open space could be lost.

Cllr Peter Thornton, deputy CCC leader, said he felt “very disappointed” the two “well-respected groups” had raised concerns.

CCC said this could potentially delay a Planning Inspectorate decision and set building work back to 2021.

Mr Thornton, who represents Kendal Strickland and Fell, said the new bridge had been "carefully designed to minimise the chances of it contributing towards flooding on Gooseholme and to provide access for pedestrians, pushchairs, mobility scooters and cycles".

He said he hoped FOLD and the OSS would consider withdrawing their concerns "to enable this much-needed bridge to be installed in 2020.”

The county councillor welcomed Mr Farron's offer to convene a meeting of everyone involved, including the Environment Agency, Kendal Town Council and South Lakeland District Council, which owns the common land.

According to CCC, Gooseholme footbridge has linked two pieces of common land for more than 140 years. Designed for "combined pedestrian and cycle use", the proposed new bridge is intended to "form a popular crossing point for cycle routes through the town including the National Cycle Route 6".

A county council spokesperson said: "We have been working closely with the Open Spaces Society and Friends of the Lake District during the design stage of the bridge project. We recognise people are entitled to their views and opinions, and indeed this is an important part of the consultation process.

“We have explained to the Planning Inspectorate why the ramp designs are necessary, and we hope the common land applications will be approved so construction of the new bridge can go ahead as planned in 2020."

The council said that if the Planning Inspectorate required an extended period to determine the applications, because of the concerns raised, there was "a real risk" the project would be delayed and construction would not start until 2021.