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Friday, 5 October, 2001, 14:19 GMT 15:19 UK
Bridge centre's closure threat
Second Severn Crossing
The visitor centre is near the Second Severn Crossing
A visitor centre which celebrates the two bridges spanning the River Severn may be forced to close.

The Severn Bridges Visitors' Centre does not meet regulations for structures sited on green belt land.

Planners from South Gloucestershire Council inspected the centre on Friday to assess whether it could remain open.

The centre was only given temporary planning permission for a limited time when it was built

It's important for us to stay open at a time when there is such a shortage of engineers

Alan Heath, Severn Bridges Visitors' Centre
Centre manager Alan Heath told BBC News Online: "We just want to be allowed to stay open."

The centre, on the English side of the Severn, has been informing visitors about the two Severn crossings since 1998.

It is run by a registered charity, the Severn Bridges Trust, whose aim is to educate people about the engineering involved in structures like the Severn crossings.

Since the centre opened, 15,000 people have visited to learn more about the bridges, one third of which were school children.

Alan Heath said: "We are an educational resource and it's important for us to stay open at a time when there is such a shortage of engineers.

Severn Bridges Visitors' Centre
15,000 people have visited the centre
"The council thinks the building is an eyesore - we disagree.

"We're trying to persuade them to look more at what goes on inside and see that we are something special."

Mr Heath thinks there is a chance it will be able to stay open, with some screening to soften the harsh lines of the building.

The centre is expecting a decision from the council after a meeting next week.

The 330m Second Severn Crossing was constructed to divert traffic from the over-burdened Severn Bridge.

The new bridge spans 912 metres (997 yards) across the Severn Estuary from Gwent to South Gloucestershire.

It has three-metre-high shielding along its length to avoid having to shut during high winds.

Click here to go to BBC Bristol Online
See also:

20 Apr 01 | UK
A tale of two rivers
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