PLANS to close a major road crossing between Bury and Radcliffe while long-awaited flood defence works are under way have been scrapped.

The Environment Agency (EA) has called off its plans to shut Hardy’s Gate bridge, instead opting for a redesign.

Concerns were raised over the negative impact of the closure to both the EA and Bury Council, namely the traffic chaos that would be caused for thousands of residents.

The bridge, which carries Dumers Lane from Bury into Radcliffe, was expected to undergo a full or partial closure from March, for as long as 18 months.

Christian Wilcox, Area Flood and Coastal Risk Manager for the EA, said: “Listening to all the concerns from residents and stakeholders and the impact on the affordability of the scheme, the project team have made the decision to review the work done at the outline design stage, considering alternative measures to reduce flood risk and reassess the initial assumptions applied in the modelling.

“We have now identified a solution that means we do not have to replace Hardy’s Gate Bridge.”

The work was to accommodate the first phase of a £46 million scheme to protect 870 properties across Radcliffe and Redvales in the event of a future flood.

These areas were among the worst hit by the Boxing Day floods of 2015, which affected more than 800 homes and businesses across Bury.

The announcement that Hardy's Gate will remain open was welcomed by residents and by Colette Jones, the chairwoman of Radcliffe and Redvales Flood Action Group.

Mrs Jones said: "It is really good news that the proposed bridge closure will not be causing disruption.

"But I cannot understand how the EA can change the plans of something so important. It was sold to us as a necessity.

"They appear to be back-tracking on a lot of things. For instance the football pavilion and the type of material used to construct the walls. If they are saving money on the bridge, perhaps we can argue for the other two now."

In earlier plans, the EA proposed rebuilding the Radcliffe Borough Juniors FC pavilion on top of the embankment in Close Park.

Last month, they said rising costs due to "unforeseen complications" prevented these original designs being implemented and instead pointed to the possibility of part-funding the new pavilion.

Mr Wilcox said: “It was identified early on that the redesign of Hardy’s Gate Bridge was required as part of the Radcliffe and Redvales scheme in order to minimise the height of the defences upstream. At the outline design stage, the initial indications were that the walls would need to be 1m higher if the bridge was not replaced, with walls of almost 4m high in some locations.

“The decision to replace the bridge was undertaken on the basis of a number of assumptions about the timescales, construction risks and cost of replacing the bridge.

“However, the project team were very conscious of the public concerns raised around the replacement. Concerns from residents included potentially closing the bridge during construction and the impact that this would have on traffic.

“However, to do the works with the bridge open and traffic lights in place would also introduce health and safety risks and have a significant impact on the length of time the works would take and the significant disruption this would cause.

“During the course of our investigations, it also became apparent that the number and extent of utility diversions needed to close the bridge would not only add an additional strain on the cost of the scheme but also on the programme and the length of time that we would be working on the bridge.

“There is expected to be a need for some small scale increases in the wall heights upstream, the installation of debris traps within the watercourse and potentially some raising of the parapet on the bridge but we will confirm this in due course.”

The EA will now price the revised designs and submit them to Bury Council.

If approved, the construction work is due to begin in Close Park and Dumers Lane in spring or early summer this year.

Any work required to the bridge will now fall under phase two of the project. The detailed design of this second phase is scheduled to start from May and the construction is currently planned to start in winter 2019.

To view the plans, search application number 63559 at