Suspension bridge to be upgraded

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A Deeside bridge which has fallen into a state of disrepair is to be upgraded.

The Polhollick suspension bridge, near Ballater, is now limited to a maximum of four pedestrians at a time.

At Tuesday’s Marr Area Committee meeting, members voted unanimously to renovate the B-listed structure, which forms part of the Seven Bridges walk. They agreed to allocate £109,000 from Aberdeenshire Council’s bridges and structures budget for the project, which is likely to cost a total of about £350,000.

Councillor Marcus Humphrey (Aboyne, Upper Deeside and Donside) said: “I’m delighted that this has come forward. It is part of a principal walking route for the area.”

In a report, councillors were told that the cables suspending the 120-year-old bridge above the river Dee are believed to be the original ones put up by Aberdeen firm James Abernethy and Co, in 1892. They are now sagging and the deck frames need replacing.

Cairngorms National Park Authority has offered £10,000 towards the work, while £1,000 will aslo be made available from the Marr area top-up grant.

Councillors also discussed plans for another 2,800m of the Deeside Way at Dess, to continue sections which have been completed around Shooting Greens, Potarch and Kincardine O’Neil.

Councillor Jill Webster (Banchory and Mid Deeside) said: “This is a wonderful asset for local people, as well as tourists, and the work of officers to address landowner concerns, land management and physical constraints should be commended. The route will always be the best compromise due to these difficulties.

“I note there are concerns raised regarding environmental issues. However these have largely been covered by condition, particularly concerns regarding otters and the River Dee SAC.

“We have asked for further assurance on landscaping for the residents most affected as we acknowledge this will be a change for them.”