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Highgate heritage group wants anti-suicide fencing at Archway Bridge replaced with more attractive design

PUBLISHED: 15:07 05 February 2020 | UPDATED: 16:32 05 February 2020

The fencing at Archway Bridge. Picture: David Richmond

The fencing at Archway Bridge. Picture: David Richmond

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A Highgate heritage group wants the long-awaited anti-suicide fencing removed from the Archway Bridge and replaced with a more attractive design.

An alternative proposal lodged by the Highgate Society. Picture: David RichmondAn alternative proposal lodged by the Highgate Society. Picture: David Richmond

The Highgate Society launched a planning appeal against the fencing in October last year, and a decision on its outcome will be made after February 11 once all submissions are registered.

In July, after 18 years of campaigning and bureaucratic delays, during which time six people died, safety measures were installed at Archway Bridge.

A 3.3-metre stainless steel fencing was erected above the parapet and footpath - funded by Islington Council, Haringey Council and Transport for London.

Highgate Society planning chair David Richmond said of its appeal: "The Highgate Society has always fully supported the need for anti-suicide measures on the Archway Bridge.

Archway Bridge before the safety measures were installed. Picture: Polly HancockArchway Bridge before the safety measures were installed. Picture: Polly Hancock

"When the council proposed this fence we objected to its appearance but realised that it was not enough to just object, we had to put forward a viable alternative.

"We came up with a scheme which we felt was equally effective and considerably less harmful to the appearance of the bridge.

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"The council refused consent to our scheme and that is now the subject of this appeal."

Haringey Council said the alternative proposals lodged were not as effective at preventing suicide.

Cllr Seema Chandwani, cabinet member for neighbourhoods, said: "We understand this is an emotive issue, and that there are a range of views involved, however the safety and well-being of our residents will always be our biggest concern.

"As a council we accepted that this fencing - designed in consultation with specialists in the field - would have an impact on the visual appearance of this historic bridge, however we firmly believe that the public benefit of the fencing, in helping to avoid loss of life, outweighs everything else."

Marjorie Wallace, chief exec of mental health charity SANE, which campaigned for 18 years to have have the fencing installed, said it was a case of saving lives over maintaining views from the bridge.

Ms Wallace said: "We have seen too many people take their own lives at this iconic structure and the heartbreak of their families, and have long campaigned for preventative measures that we know can dramatically reduce suicides.

"We would like the fencing to be as elegant as possible, but in the end what do we value more: the aesthetics of the bridge, or the unnecessary loss of life?"

Islington Council said its thoughts are with the families who lost loved ones.

For advice on any potential issue concerning suicide, call The Samaritans on 020 8394 8300.


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