Planners reject Penrith-Keswick rail bridge infill plan

Date: Friday 8th February 2013

LAKE District planning officers have turned down a scheme to infill adefective railway bridgeon the former Penrith-Keswick railway line near Troutbeck, Penrith.

Highgate Close Bridge is owned by BRB (Residuary) Ltd., a Government-fundedorganisation whichmaintains a significant number of listed anddisused railway structures around the UK.

The railway wasdismantled in 1972 and the bridge is now usedprimarily to carry a public byway open to all traffic.

During recentinvestigations inspectors have highlighted that the girders which help support the bridge deck have been suffering from corrosion and adjacent brick jack arches have lost asignificant amount ofmortar, likely due to age and weathering.

In a report to the Lake District National Park Authority, BRB said that if the structure was leftwithout maintenance, the deck could fail in the long term.

The organisation has therefore commissioned a design consultant to look at a remedial scheme to safeguard the deck and, in turn, lower long-term maintenance costs. After considering several options, such as patch repairs and demolition, it was suggested that a scheme to infill theunderside of the structure would provide acost-effective solution to the long-term support of the deck and road.

However, in a report to the national parkauthority’s development control committee, aplanning officer said the scheme would fully obstruct the line of theformer Penrith-Keswick railway.

The report stated: “The proposed development by obstructing the line would compromise the potential reuse of the line as a viable sustainabletransport route in the future, and would set an unsatisfactory precedent to allow other similardevelopments elsewhereon the route whichcumulatively could further increase the burden upon any sustainable transport development.

“Furthermore theproposal wouldunacceptably affect the character of a heritage asset of local importance the route of the railway.”