WORK is due to start on a controversial new footbridge spanning the River Tees at Yarm School.

The proposed wooden footbridge, designed by Newcastle architects Pod, will enable the private school's pupils to gain safe access to the nearby sports fields, which are located on the other side of the river to the main school buildings.

The construction is expected to remove unnecessary bus journeys for the pupils, saving them time between lessons and helping to support the sports curriculum.

Set within a conservation area, the plans for the footbridge incorporate a low-profile timber truss girder spanning 36m. Enough clearance will be built in to allow the river cruiser ‘Teesside Princess’ and other boats to pass safely underneath even at high tide.

A key design will see carefully constructed ramps to avoid existing tree positions and associated root protection areas while tying in with existing public rights of way.

Pod director Ruth Van Bedaf said: “We have developed an effective yet sympathetic design solution, which respects the local environment and meets the existing needs of the pupils and the long-term development of the school.”