PLANS to build a new footbridge in tribute to the Queen across the River Cherwell in Christ Church Meadow have been approved.

The proposed Jubilee Bridge linking the meadow to Christ Church’s playing fields was granted planning permission by Oxford City Council last week.

The college now hopes the 28-metre bridge, to be built on the site of a historic ferry crossing point on the Cherwell, will be completed by the end of April.

The college says the public will be able to enjoy views from the steel bridge but only Christ Church students and staff will be able to cross it, with a gate blocking access to the sports grounds on the other side of the river.

But Peter Thompson, chairman of Oxford Civic Society, believes the new bridge could create the opportunity for a new public footpath along the banks of the Cherwell.

Mr Thompson has written to Christ Church urging the college to open the bridge to the public, with a footpath created on the other side of the river.

The pathway would run from the meadow to the end of Jackdaw Lane. But to make it possible would mean installing a gate a short distance from the bridge and river bank, he said.

Mr Thompson said: “The design of the bridge could be viewed as an enhancement of the location and re-establishes it as a crossing point.

“One of the benefits of the bridge is the possibility of opening up this footpath.”

Christ Church said a locked gate was needed to block access to the sports ground and tennis courts, shared with Magdalen College School, for security reasons.

College treasurer James Lawrie said: “We will consider what Mr Thompson says.”

He said the steel bridge had “an elegant and modern design” and did not impose itself on the landscape. Like the meadow itself, it will be not be open for cyclists.

The bridge is being named in honour of the Queen, who has close links with Christ Church as College Visitor.

Mr Lawrie said it would not be completed in time for the Queen’s visit to Christ Church Cathedral on Thursday, March 28, to hand out Maundy money to elderly people in recognition of their work for the community and Church.

Special coins will be presented to 87 men and 87 women from Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire.