PLANNERS won't force a pedestrian bridge in rural Peeblesshire to be pulled down.

Scottish Water erected the structure over a disused aqueduct near Blyth Bridge earlier this year.

But they forgot to ask for planning permission.

This week Scottish Borders Council passed a retrospective application to allow the bridge to stay.

Planning officer Dorothy Amyes said: "Scottish Borders Council was only made aware of the bridge once it had been constructed.

"The work to construct the bridge is not permitted development, it is a few feet away from a listed structure and involved work over a watercourse and the site is liable to flooding.

"A planning application was therefore required to regularise the situation."

The new bridge is close to the C-listed Blyth Bridge, which is a single arch bridge over the Tarth Water dating form 1819.

Both bridges link up a path network, locally known as John's Path.

Ms Aymes added: "Whilst the principle of the bridge and paths are commendable and provide a safer route for walkers when crossing the road bridge, the council have had no input to the design and implementation of this scheme.

"The council’s bridges section have raised concerns over the workmanship and design of the bridge, such as protruding nails and the free standing nature of the design.

"The Roads Planning Service has concerns over the construction of the paths which are already showing signs of deterioration."

Despite all of the concerns, planning permission was granted this week.

Much to the pleasure of Lamancha, Newlands and Kirkurd Community Council, who have taken over responsibility for the bridge and paths.

A spokesman for the community council stated: "Local people have been disappointed that such an approach has been taken by the (Scottish Borders)council and see it as an overly bureaucratic exercise.

"We would hope that such action by the council does not have the effect of leaving companies wary of contributing to the wellbeing of small communities for fear of being financially punished."

The new bridge was built by Scottish Water following concerns for walkers who had to cross the narrow road bridge into the face of oncoming traffic.

A spokesman for Scottish Water added: "Scottish Water always seeks to to do the right thing in terms of ensuring the appropriate consents are in place for works it carries out.

"In this case we were working with the local community to try and leave a positive legacy after our infrastructure works were completed.

"Unfortunately some confusion arose over the necessary consent."