We're proposing a Bridge Walk Experience at The Forth Bridge
The Forth Bridge is an iconic structure which has worldwide recognition as a World Heritage Site. Despite this recognition, visitors to the bridge have no access to the structure itself and the historical and educational context in which the bridge was constructed and continues to operate is not celebrated. Apart from its transportation role, the bridge is a passive landmark today from a tourism and culture point of view. It could and should be so much more.
For the first time in the bridge’s history, it is now possible to provide public access to the bridge and capitalise on this iconic structure for the benefit of visitors to Scotland, the wider economy and Network Rail. The Forth Bridge has the potential to support a range of cultural and tourism-related activities and to operate in more than one tourism market. These are the ‘active’ experience; a bridge walk at height appealing to thrill seekers and the more ‘passive and immersive’ experience; a visitor centre and lift to a viewing platform on the North Tower, appealing more to families and those interested in history and heritage. These are collectively known as the Forth Bridge Experience (FBE).
What is the forth bridge experience?
For the first time in the bridge’s history, the public will be able to access the world-famous structure and explore its heritage as well as the outstanding views from 367 ft (110m) above sea level.
Plans will see construction of a Bridge Walk Reception Hub on the South Queensferry side of the UNESCO World Heritage site, which will be used for preparing those heading out on the bridge walk as well as providing physical access to the bridge.
The proposals will be delivered with full consideration of the bridge’s world heritage status and will set out to further the aims of UNESCO in helping to interpret the history and heritage of the Forth Bridge. It will also aim to recognise the significance of its two sister bridges and the supporting communities north and south of the Firth of Forth.
In a similar style to the world-renowned Sydney Harbour Bridge Walk, groups of between 12 to 15 people will put on safety harnesses before being led out from the South Queensferry side of the estuary onto the south cantilever, walking up to the view point at the top. Up to three groups an hour will be permitted on the bridge, with each tour estimated to last around two and a half hours.
It is estimated the bridge walk experience could attract around 85,000 visitors as a unique Scottish tourist attraction, bringing real benefits to the local community.
There are also longer-term ambitions to develop visitor facilities at the north end of the Forth Bridge, which could see access to the top of the north cantilever via a lift.
Finally, we are committed to providing a unique, world class facility that will enhance Scotland’s reputation in the eyes of domestic and international visitors but will also improve local amenities and present local enterprise opportunities.
Over 200 people participated in public drop-in sessions throughout the summer where they had the chance to find out more about the proposals and designs and it’s hugely encouraging to see the plans being met with real support and enthusiasm.
Between the 3 community drop-ins held on 11th June, 18th July and 10th October circa 200 people came along to speak with the project team and discuss the proposal for the FBE. There was significant support and enthusiasm for the proposal. The dialogue with interested parties was very constructive and helped inform our proposal. There were, of course, some concerns raised mainly revolving around parking, the management of visitors, impact on the environment including, visitor’s reception building and the walkway on the bridge and road access. Yet, the main themes from the community drop-ins and our responses is collated into a consultation report.
The planning applications decision including planning permission, listed building consent and conservation area, submitted to City of Edinburgh Council (CEC) were granted by the council on 6 April 2020, for the development of a Forth Bridge Walk Reception Centre at South Queensferry.
City of Edinburgh Council (CEC) has validated the forth bridge experience application on the 11th of September. Documents are now live on CEC online system with the following references:
- Planning permission – 19/04116/FUL
- Conservation Area Consent – 19/04117/CON
- Listed Building Consent – 19/04118/LBC
Network Rail reviewed the neighbour’s concern regarding their privacy that was mentioned during the last meeting on October 10th and made some changes to the design of the ramped access to take account of these concerns.
The ramp has been lengthened for a gentler gradient that ends past the point where the building turns so that the climbers can clip on to the safety line as soon as they are out of the building and onto the roof which will result in continual movement past this area. The climbers will face/travel NE before they see over the parapet and would be looking in away from the houses.
On the 17th of August, the Planning and Environmental Appeals Division of the Scottish Government confirmed that Network Rail was successful in appealing the planning condition imposed by City of Edinburgh Council that restricted the number of parking spaces at the Forth Bridge Experience. Prior to the initiation of development, an amended car park layout shall be submitted for approval by the Planning Authority, demonstrating a parking provision of 57 car parking spaces.
We have begun the process of appointing a main contractor to design and build the new Forth Bridge Experience. Potential partners were asked to submit their interest and Network Rail shortlisted firms to tender for the project on the 28th of August. A main contractor is expected to be appointed by the end of 2020 with work on-site commencing in 2021.
For more information please call our 24-hr community relations helpline on 03457 11 41 41.