THE DECISION over whether to demolish a historic bridge in Steventon, closing a major route into the village for 10 months, has been delayed.

Vale of White Horse District Council's planning committee were set to vote on the controversial application from Network Rail last night but instead opted to defer.

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

Banbury Cake: Steventon Bridge as it stands now. Picture by Marc West

It comes as a welcome reprive for campaigners, including Steventon Parish Council, who have been fighting the plans since they were first proposed by Network Rail four years ago.

Businesses fear they will lose trade if the plan goes ahead.

The rail company insists the project is the only way to electrify the line after putting 'significant resources' into exploring alternatives.

Despite initial concerns, both Historic England and the district council's conservation officer have supported revised plans, which add brickwork cladding to the High Street bridge's concrete replacement.

A final report from Historic England's buildings and area inspector Richard Peats explained, following 'clarifications' from the rail company, that all other potential options were either impossible, would pose a risk to the running of the railway or would involve even lengthier closures to the other routes into Steventon.