Reporter, Thursday, 23th May, 2002
Italian bridge plan sinking in troubled waters
Planning hitch could see end of shops dream.

PLANS to bring a touch of Tuscany to Preston look shaky.

Property specialists Pugh and Company, which is based on Lockside Road, Preston, is auctioning off the viaduct over the River Ribble.

The bridge over the River Ribble - will it everlook like the Ponte Vecchio in Florence?
Photograph: Little Italy: The bridge over the River Ribble - will it everlook like the Ponte Vecchio in Florence?

The proposed sale raises doubts over proposals to convert the disused bridge, which once connected the city to the East Lancashire railway line, into the country’s equivalent to Florence’s Ponte Vecchio.

Last September an entrepreneur claimed some 20 businesses shared his vision for the stunning development.

Stephen Weeks, the director of the not-for-profit organisation Monumental Trust, claimed the viaduct could be lined with shops and offices, mirroring the famous Italian landmark.

Narrow Other suggestions included sheltered housing, a leisure development including a fitness centre, a corporate HQ or even student accommodation.

Lot number 13 will include the former railway line and is tipped to fetch between £10,000 and £15,000.

It lies within Avenham Conservation area and it now appears the scope for development is quiet narrow.

The bridge, number 19, is a listed building and is also a protected transport roughte, meaning it must be kept open for transport.

Mr Weeks Company has already converted two redundant railway viaducts into cycle paths and one into a holding for a holiday train boxcar cottage.

The writer and director is also renovating 12 castles in Bohemia. The auction takes place at Manchester Airport on June 12th.

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© Reporter, May 2002