Objections flood in as National Highways bids to keep controversial bridge infill

Hundreds of objections have been lodged against National Highways retrospective planning application for the controversial bridge infilling at Great Musgrave, Cumbria.

image: for illustration purposes only – By RuthAS – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50687148

… National Highways didn’t consult with us about their plans for the structure…

New Civil Engineer writes:

More than 300 letters objecting to the infill have been lodged with Eden District Council, just three weeks since National Highways put in its planning application, according to The HRE Group (a campaign group made up of engineers, transport and active travel planners).

National Highways was ordered to submit a retrospective planning application by the council last year….

The structure is part of the Historical Railways Estate managed by National Highways on behalf of the DfT. The estate comprises 3,200 bridges, tunnels and viaducts, including 77 listed structures. Jacobs acts as the ‘sole provider’ (designer) for the Historical Railways Estate and is supported by six contractors including Dyer & Butler and Balfour Beatty.

A pause on the entire programme was put in place last year following the backlash to the bridge infilling carried out between May and June 2021.

Following the Great Musgrave project, NCE readers expressed ‘shame’ in their profession and called for better solutions to be adopted…

While National Highways has vowed to remove the infill if a viable use beneath the bridge is found, Stainmore Railway Company project manager Mike Thompson said that aspirations to reinstate a railway are now ‘much more difficult’ to overcome.

“Our longstanding aspiration to reconnect with our friends at the Eden Valley Railway offers the potential to provide a much-needed boost to the area’s economy. It was always going to be a challenging project with obstacles to overcome, but the unnecessary infilling of Great Musgrave bridge has made it so much more difficult and costly,” he said.

“National Highways didn’t consult with us about their plans for the structure. Now though we have the opportunity to make our views known and we hope that democratic process will result in the right outcome. We believe infilling conflicts with the council’s policies on new development, biodiversity, landscape character, green infrastructure and heritage assets, as well as the protection of dismantled railways under consideration for reopening.”

In response, National Highways head of Historical Railways Estate programme Hélène Rossiter said: “We wrote to the heritage railway companies that comprise Eden Valley Railway Project to discuss the progress of their plans for the reopening of the line, including timescales and funding, so we could include their timescales in the planning submission and let the planning authority know when the infilling would likely be removed. Unfortunately the Eden Valley Railway Project’s plans were not sufficiently developed to provide the planning authority with that information….”

Read more….

This entry was posted in Sector NewsBlog. Bookmark the permalink.