Demolition of listed railway overbridge and provision of replacement bridge.
The committee considered application P17/V1154/LB for the demolition of the Grade II listed Steventon Overbridge, High Street, Steventon and the provision of a replacement bridge.
Consultations, representations, policy and guidance, and the site’s planning history were detailed in the officer’s report, which formed part of the agenda pack for this meeting.
Dr Chris Wilding, a representative of Steventon Parish Council, spoke objecting to the application.
Robert Green, a local resident spoke objecting to the application. Julie Mabberley, on behalf of Francis G Sketch, was available for questions.
Ian Wheaton of Network Rail Town Planning, Nick Preston of Network Rail Sponsorship and Al Byers, Network Rail Consents Manager, spoke in support of the application.
Matthew Barber, ward member for Steventon and The Hanneys, spoke objecting to the application.
In response to questions raised by the committee, the officers reported that:
· Oxfordshire County Council have considered traffic diversions since Network Rail made this application if approval was given to demolish the bridge. There was an informal agreement with Highways England to use the A34 as an alternative route. If the application was approved, the County Council would work closely with Highways England to ensure sufficient signposting of the diversion route and National Rail would be requested to host a public event to inform local residents and businesses.
· No economic study had been carried out to consider the impact of the road closure if the bridge were to be demolished but this was not a material planning consideration.
· The demolition would be in keeping with the Local Plan.
· A car park could be discussed as a condition on this application to mitigate the impact of the road diversion. A car park was not originally a condition on this application as it was not material to listed building consent considerations; this would be an agreement between National Rail and Oxfordshire County Council Highways in discussion with local residents. The local planning authority cannot enforce this.
· Richard Peets, from Historic England confirmed that the organisation did not object because it accepted the justification given by Network Rail to demolish the bridge.
The officer advised the committee that if it were to refuse this application, it must be satisfied and provide material reasons that demolition of the bridge is not outweighed by the public benefit at a national level.
The committee agreed that the bridge should be preserved and that its loss would not significantly improve infrastructure at a national level. National Rail had not demonstrated that there are exceptional circumstances which justified the demolition, so paragraph 195 of the National Planning Policy Framework would be contradicted. Local residents and businesses would suffer due to road diversions and there was some concern that there had been a lack of public consultation. The committee did not believe that the inconvenience of lowering the track outweighed the listed building nature of the bridge. Further, train delays at present had not drastically affected the current timetable, despite some members of the committee arguing that the bridge constrains the railway network.
A motion, moved and seconded, to refuse listed building consent for the demolition of the Grade II listed overbridge at Steventon, was declared carried on being put to the vote.
RESOLVED: to refuse application P17/V1154/LB for listed building consent for the demolition of the Grade II listed overbridge at Steventon for the following reasons:
· The proposed demolition of the Grade II listed Steventon Overbridge is not outweighed by the needs of the national infrastructure project and the wider public and national benefit.
· The proposal is contrary to paragraphs 193, 194 and 195 of the National Planning Policy Framework and the relevant policies in the Local Plan.