DISTRICT planning chiefs have opposed contentious proposals for the pedestrian bridge at Wareham railway station.

Purbeck District Council’s (PDC) planning committee members agreed to back a letter, from PDC bosses to Dorset County Council (DCC), outlining their reasons why.

County Hall and Network Rail want to build new ramped access to the station's existing footbridge, so the surface crossing - deemed a potential safety hazard by Network Rail - can be removed.

However, thousands of Wareham residents are opposed to the move, arguing the removal of the surface crossing - with locking gates currently manned by a security guard - would affectively split the town in half.

Prior to this week's planning committee meeting, the district council had already refused to grant listed building consent for the proposals, a decision that will have to be taken into consideration when DCC rules on the bridge scheme later this year.

Now, in its role as a consultee, PDC has also objected to the actual planning application.

A report to committee from PDC planning officer Andrew Collins recommended members approve a letter to be sent to Dorset County Council.

PDC said: "The scheme undoubtedly will have a significant impact upon the character and appearance of the area and the setting of the listed building.

"In addition, there is a lot of public concern over the submitted proposals.

"The council understands that some alternative options for a new crossing of the railway have been investigated by the county council and these have all been ruled out for

engineering and financial reasons. However, the council is concerned that not all options may have been investigated.

"The council believes that the proposed solution is harmful.

"In weighing up the public benefit compared to its impact, the scheme is deemed to be unacceptable.

"On balance, the council therefore objects to the application."

The application is to build new step free access ramps on either side of the existing rail bridge.