Christ Church College has applied for planning permission to build a bridge across the Cherwell in order to link the Christ Church Meadow to their sports ground.
The 28-metre-long bridge, which is planned to be finished before summer, will be available for all Christ Church students and would cut their walk from college to the playing fields by an estimated five minutes.
James Lawrie, the Christ Church Treasurer, explained the need for this bridge: “There used to be a stationary punt which fell into a disarrayitude [sic] and so we will be replacing that with this bridge which will hopefully cut journey times between A and B, depending of course on where point B is.”
The aim of the planning application is to build a modern bridge on the site of an old ferry crossing which has been in occasional use since 1876. This would make it stand out amongst the more traditional bridges which line the Cherwell. However, there have been no complaints from either the English Heritage or the Environmental Agency, which means that permission is expected to be granted in a matter of weeks.
Roulin Wang, a first-year mathematician from Christ Church, was overjoyed with the news of the bridge commenting that she hoped it “would take its place as the preeminent bridge in Oxford”, stealing the title from Hertford’s “overrated” Bridge of Sighs, allowing Christ Church to “secure its title as the undisputed best college in Oxford”.
James Lawrie, however, has less ambitious targets for the bridge, envisaging it less as a rival for the Bridge of Sighs and more as a “jolly nice bridge, which will be a good addition to the landscape”.
He went on to say that the bridge had been designed to be “relatively unobtrusive” and that it would benefit the public who would be able to get views from the bridge which “will be a nice addition to the meadow experience”.
That the bridge will have a locked gate at one end which only Christ Church students will be able to pass through has raised concerns that the project will not be of benefit to the general public. However the College has defended these restrictions as necessary for the safety of the children at Magdalen College School which shares the College’s sports fields.
This explanation has not stopped Sam Hornby, a 2nd XI University hockey player from Keble, from expressing his annoyance that he would not be able to use the bridge as “a cheeky shortcut on the way to hockey practise”.
“It would not be any hardship to allow all University students to use this bridge, so I think it should be open to all.”
This opinion, however, was opposed by Inigo Lapwood, a Christ Church student, who commented: “The playing fields are already off limit to the public, so complaining then that the route to the playing fields is also off limits would be of similar merit to complaining about how unfair it is that the public can’t sit atop prison gates.”
Other concerns have been raised by Satya Gunput, a Christ Church third-year, who said: “I don’t think much of this plan, to be honest. Nothing in Oxford is too far anyway so it seems a bit unnecessary when money could be put to better use.”
The College declined to comment on the estimated expenditure for the bridge.