At Tickner’s Heath, where the route of the canal is blocked by the causeway which carries Dunsfold Road, there is a particularly difficult restoration challenge. The road has sharp bends, there is residential property very close by, the canal water level is only a foot or so below the road and the whole area is within designated Common Land which has very strict rules for any works taking place within it.
The Trust looked at several options before deciding that the best way to overcome this obstruction was to avoid it altogether by building a new bridge to take Dunsfold Road over the canal a couple of hundred yards east of the original crossing point. The new bridge will be within the width of the existing highway so a short length of temporary road will be built to take traffic around the bridge site.
Once the bridge is in place and the road reopened to traffic, a new canal cut some 200 yards long will be excavated below the bridge and will then curve around to rejoin the original canal to the west of the old crossing. The road itself will remain on the causeway as it is now. As the road over the new bridge will be no wider than the existing road, a separate, parallel bridge has been built provided for the use of pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders.
The last 100 yards of the existing canal as it runs towards the road from east will become redundant. This will be partially filled (with clay excavated from the new cut) and will be landscaped with areas of wetland and replacement tree planting.
Planning permission for the first phase of work was granted in January 2020 and Common Land Consent in July 2020. Work on constructing the pedestrian footbridge began first, in late 2020. Contractors created the pilings and the prefabricated steel bridge deck, with volunteers undertaking the rest of the construction.
The footbridge was completed by mid-2022 with volunteers then profiling the bridge embankment, planting trees and upgrading the footpath to Sidney Woods. However, at the end of 2022 the design and legal agreement for the road diversion was still awaited from Surrey County Council. Work here will resume once permission is granted.
The current restoration project is only the first stage. Planning permission is currently being sought for a second phase that will create a new cut to connect to the Stage 1 canal and a new canal bridge to carry the forest track to Sidney Wood across the new canal cut.
Drawings showing the proposed stages of the project can be found here https://weyarun.org.uk/content/tickners-heath-road-crossing