VILLAGERS fighting to stop the demolition of a historic bridge have said they are hopeful new evidence will scupper the scheme.

The decision over whether to knock down the Steventon bridge, closing a major route into the village for 10 months, was due to be made last week but was delayed following questions over whether alternatives had been fully considered as part of Network Rail’s electrification plans.

Herald Series: Steventon Bridge as it stands now. Picture by Marc West

Vale of White Horse District Council’s planning committee were set to vote on the controversial application from the rail company on Wednesday but instead opted to defer after being presented with evidence from campaigners, including Robert Green.

The Steventon parish councillor said: “The information we presented contradicted some of the information Network Rail have been using and, most damning, included one of their own assessments about train speeds.”

He added: “The problem is technology has moved on since the original scheme was proposed in 2013 meaning the demolition isn’t necessary but Network Rail’s planning department haven’t updated.”

According to outgoing council leader Matthew Barber, who tweeted after the meeting, councillors are now ‘demanding further information on alternatives to knocking down the bridge’ and he said the committee would vote again in about a month's time.

Mr Green, who has been battling the plans for almost five years, said if he and other villagers could use Network Rail's own assessments against it, he was 'extremely confident' of victory.

He added all documents had been passed to the council for scrutiny.

Concerns over the plans have come from those keen to protect the heritage of Steventon as well as businesses who fear they will lose trade during the road closure.

Support has not been universal among Oxfordshire residents however, with Keith Farr from Cholsey saying: “I use the line from Didcot to south Wales and the electrification is needed for the people who use that route.The bridge isn’t anything special architecturally.”

The rail company insists the project is the only way to electrify the line and have put ‘significant resources’ into exploring alternatives.

Despite initial concerns, both Historic England and the district council’s conservation officer supported revised plans, which add brickwork cladding to the High Street bridge’s concrete replacement. The full application, including supporting documents, is available on the district council website.