NEW bridges to be built over Oxford's £120m flood channel must be introduced in a ‘sensitive way’, the head of Oxford Preservation Trust has said.

The three-mile channel, which will divert floodwater away from the city centre, is planned to run from Botley Road and rejoin the River Thames near Kennington.

The preservation trust owns three fields to the south of Willow Walk in North Hinksey, between the Seacourt and Bulstake streams, bought in 1978.

Chief executive Debbie Dance said: “The scheme will mean that two new substantial bridges are needed at Willow Walk and North Hinksey Causeway behind The Fishes pub – both much-loved and well-used routes into the city.

“The area is an extraordinary survival of a rural green open landscape within the city, where town meets country.

“Sadly it will change, but with an understanding of its distinctive character these new structures can surely be introduced in a sensitive way, as in the bridges at the University Parks, and further north at Wolfson College, designed to allow people to punt underneath.”

Ms Dance said plans for the channel’s bridges indicated they would be ‘huge’ – 20-23 metres.

She added: “The bridges will have to be high so that they do not block the flow of water at times of flood.

“There is lots of technical data and drawings but I can find nothing to inspire: no artist or architect’s plans or drawings, or anything that tells of a vision or sense of place.

“Perhaps it is too early for this and it will come forward as the scheme unfolds.

“One way or another I look forward to working with the council and the Environment Agency to design two new bridges in context, beautiful structures that befit the importance of the area and which build on the Oxford tradition of building for future generations.

"We surely all want to see two new structures that people can celebrate.”

Ms Dance previously warned in March that views of Oxford's dreaming spires were under threat from new large structures, including towers at St Hilda’s College, New College and Jesus College.

Peter Rawcliffe of Oxford Flood Alliance said: “I would like the new bridges to be well-designed and introduced sensitively.”

Oxford Preservation Trust is hosting a meeting to discuss plans for the channel at The Fishes on Thursday, May 31, from 6.30pm to 8pm.

The Oxford Flood Alleviation Scheme is designed to protect more than 1,200 homes in Oxford from flooding following several cases of severe bad weather, most recently in 2014. Work could start later this year after a planning application is considered by the county council.