The cost of Highways England's destructive plans
Feb 16, 2021 —
Our campaign to prevent Highways England taking a wrecking ball to our great railway heritage - jeopardising rail and active travel projects - continues to gain traction. The issue has been taken up by Historic England, The Victorian Society and SAVE Britain’s Heritage, whilst several MPs are lobbying the Department for Transport on behalf of constituents.
We have completed an initial appraisal of the 134 bridges and tunnels currently earmarked for demolition or infilling. This has revealed that 19 structures (14%) are already proposed for reuse, 22 (17%) have identified potential for future reuse, 54 (40%) have no obstructions to reuse and 39 (29%) have no realistic value.
Six proposed cycle paths would be blocked by Highways England’s infilling plans; extensions to heritage lines in Angus, Cumbria and Norfolk could also be affected, together with the reopening of a strategic north-south railway through west Wales and the Penrith-Keswick branch. In Dorset, the demolition of a bridge would impose additional costs of £750,000 on the construction of a new light railway and active travel route.
Further work has revealed that in 33 of the 63 cases examined, the disused railways spanned by bridges proposed for infilling are safeguarded from development under policies set out in the relevant council’s Local Plan. But Highways England is seeking to overcome this difficulty by using Permitted Development powers which don't involve planning permission and are only applicable in emergency situations presenting the threat of death.
It’s clear that Highways England is acting disreputably and against the public interest.
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