Fresh hopes have been given of saving an historic bridge after it was granted Grade II listed status.
Boxal Bridge, between Kirdford and Wisborough Green, has been earmarked for replacement instead of repair by the county council if it fails structural safety tests.
In a newsletter to supporters, campaign group Keep Kirdford and Wisborough Green hailed the listing as ‘fantastic news’.
It read: “This listing will give strength to the challenges we have been fighting, as it means that listed building consent must be applied for in order to make any changes to the bridge which might affect its special interest.
“We hope the council will now spend the time and money repairing and maintaining the bridge, as we have always accepted that the bridge does need some TLC but not a replacement.
“We also hope that the council will address the problems to the road surfaces on both sides of the bridge with the increasing number of dangerous pot holes.”
The bridge is listed as having important architectural and historic interest as an example of the development of bridge construction at a time of rapid increase in infrastructure when it was built in the late 18th to early 19th century.
West Sussex County Council had previously passed a resolution to replace the bridge as the most cost effective option long-term.
Before the listing, Wisborough Green Parish Council heard that designs were being drafted up ready for a new bridge, which would be two-way and include a footpath to comply with current highways regulations.
Responding to news of the listed status, a county council spokesperson said: “We are studying the details of the Grade II listing to see what the implications are for the future of Boxal Bridge and finding the best way forward.
“The bridge has significant structural defects but is currently safe to use and is regularly inspected to check this is still the case.”
A petition in 2014 to save Boxal Bridge from demolition attracted more than 3,000 signatures from residents.
The bridge is also registered as a community asset which contributes to the area’s rural feel.
Neither status definitively protects the structure from demolition, should planning consent be given.