Page last updated at 12:11 GMT, Tuesday, 9 December 2008

New harbour bridge funding backed

Computer image of how the Twin Sails Bridge may look
The Twin Sails Bridge will cost 40m, double original estimates

Plans for a 40m lifting bridge across Dorset's Poole Harbour have been backed by councillors after a new funding plan put the project back on track.

The Twin Sails Bridge would connect Hamworthy with Poole port and would be the harbour's second crossing.

Poole councillors voted to back a partnership with the South West Regional Development Agency (SWRDA), which could see work start in 2009.

SWRDA would provide a 10m loan, to be repaid from future redevelopments.

Borough of Poole has submitted a bid for the funding from SWRDA's 80m Regional Infrastructure Fund (RIF).

SWRDA has given "provisional approval" for the bid but a final decision will be made by its main board in January.

The council said it would repay the loan using proceeds from the "future development of regeneration sites", including the former Hamworthy Power Station.

Years of delays

Councillor Brian Leverett said: "We have put in place all practical safeguards to ensure the repayment of the RIF package will not fall on council taxpayers.

"The future development of regeneration sites will ultimately still pay for the bridge."

The Twin Sails Bridge project has faced years of delays, after the council first submitted a proposal to the Department for Transport in 2004.

Since then, its proposed cost has doubled.

The project was delayed a year ago because of a stalemate between the council and the owners of the land, JJ Gallagher Estates, over neighbouring housing development plans, which clashed with the council's vision for the area.

But the council said new discussions with JJ Gallagher were "well under way".

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