A DECISION to force the removal of a concrete mound which had been placed under a bridge has been welcomed by a campaigner.

At a meeting earlier this year, Eden District Council planners unanimously rejected National Highways' (formerly Highways England) retrospective planning application to 'infill' the bridge.

The bridge at Great Musgrave, near Kirkby Stephen, was infilled in July 2021 amid fears it might collapse.

Hundreds of tonnes of concrete were poured in by National Highways and then grassed over at a cost of £124,000.

But the work led to uproar over 'cultural vandalism', with more than 800 people objecting.

Eden District Council issued an enforcement notice last month after previously refusing retrospective planning permission.

Graeme Bickerdike, a member of The HRE Group, which rallied against the infill, said: “We’re delighted that Eden District Council has now put in place the legal mechanism to ensure its unanimous rejection of the Great Musgrave bridge infill is acted upon.

“The recent report by Bill Harvey Associates comprehensively demolished National Highways’ claim that the bridge presented a threat to public safety, so it’s regrettable that NH has had to commit £431K of public money to rectify a problem brought upon itself by unnecessarily burying the structure for £124K. That cost must be reduced considerably by securing specialist insight from those who understand masonry arch bridges.

“Careful planning is also needed to ensure that restoring the structure to its rightful place in the landscape does not inconvenience the community through closure of the road for weeks on end.

“This is just the start of a challenging 12-month journey.”