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Future looks bright for Hockley viaduct
CAMPAIGNERS are hailing plans to save the longest brick structure in Hampshire.
The Hockley viaduct, south of Winchester, has been slowly crumbling away since the railway tracks were removed in 1966.
Now it is set for badly-needed repairs in a £500,000 programme over the next 12 years.
Winchester city council is proposing to spend the money on renovating the structure which once carried the Newbury to Southampton railway.
Today the council cabinet will consider a report recommending a rolling programme of repairs.
The council also wants to lower the parapet to open up views along the Itchen valley.
The news was welcomed by campaigners. Chris Webb, chairman of the Friends of Hockley Viaduct, said: "This is very good news, the best news about it in years. The viaduct is important, not least because it acts as a sound barrier for the people living in St Cross.
"It is an asset. It should not be looked at as a liability," he said.
The report looks to have killed off suggestions the viaduct should be demolished.
The report said it would cost £525,000 to knock it down. A full repair programme would cost £640,000. In 1984 the then-council leader the late Ken Penman asked the Army to blow up the bridge. Initially interested, the Army pulled out after a local uproar.
Mr Webb has long campaigned for it to form part of park and ride, as a potential bus route to avoid the congestion of St Cross Road and Southgate Street.
The Friends of Hockley Viaduct will be relaunched in November at a Winchester Archaeology and Local History group, at Peter Symonds College on November 12 at 7.30pm.
Guest speaker will be local historian Kevin Robertson who will talk on the railway that once ran over the viaduct.