Campaign to save historic crossing

Plumpton level crossing improvements SUS-150819-104054008
Plumpton level crossing improvements SUS-150819-104054008

A campaign to save the historic gates at Plumpton Level Crossing is gathering pace.

Network Rail submitted an application to Lewes District Council’s planning committee in June, requesting permission to replace the gates with a manually controlled barrier.

The decision was not welcomed by local residents and a campaign group was subsequently formed in a bid to save the gates. A spokesperson from the group said: “The overall scheme is completely contrary to the rustic countryside vernacular of the village and destroys a historic Grade II listed view and curtilage.

“While Network Rail might argue the new barriers will be more reliable than the old ones, the straightening of the road and the eyeline across the barrier will significantly increase road traffic speed on entering and leaving the village. With a nursery and playing fields immediately adjacent to the crossing, the potential for a child to be hit by a car is significantly increased.”

Plumpton Parish Council also oppose the application, stating: “In assessing the public benefits that may derive from the proposed changes to the gates, PPC found no evidence in the planning statement or accompanying documents to support a strong and unequivocal case for substantial benefits.

“Safety is everyone’s priority but no data has been presented to demonstrate the proposal will necessarily provide better safety or reliability to other options. Until and unless such evidence is forthcoming, PPC cannot agree the potential public benefit of the proposed changes outweighs or justifies the substantial harm that will result to the designated heritage asset.

“The planning committee could see no benefits to justify in any way the loss of this rare asset from our heritage and unanimously opposed the application.”

A spokesperson for Network Rail said: “Network Rail has had lengthy discussions with the parish council about our plans to upgrade the crossing in Plumpton and replace the signaller-operated crossing with a new full barrier crossing. We are committed to making the railway as safe, reliable and efficient as possible.

“We have submitted a listed building application to Lewes District Council and we hope to hear the outcome of this by the end of August.

“We are currently in the advanced stages of the design process and if the application is successful then we would hope to start the upgrade work by early September.

“We have taken many factors into consideration in making the decision to renew this level crossing. This includes current levels of level crossing failure, safety concerns which in part relate to the volume of traffic, particularly on race days.

“The current technology dates back to the 19th century and we will be replacing it with 21st century technology which is safer, more reliable and more cost effective.

“The crossing gates, signalbox and curtilage of the crossing are Grade II listed. We have held discussions with the local parish council and residents about what they would like to do with them. The agreement is to donate the gates and associated equipment to the East Kent Railway based at Sheperdswell in Kent. The signalbox will remain in situ and will continue to contain all its original features albeit not in working order. The signalbox itself will continue to be maintained by Network Rail.”

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