Search

Design panel stand by controversial Needham Market level crossing replacement plans

PUBLISHED: 06:23 12 April 2018 | UPDATED: 08:38 12 April 2018

Tony Fayers in front of the tunnel.   Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Tony Fayers in front of the tunnel. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

Plans to divert a dangerous level crossing in Needham Market are above board, says a member of the design panel for the project.

Gipsy Lane level crossing in Needham Market.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNGipsy Lane level crossing in Needham Market. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The news follows concern that controversial blueprints may have been drawn up behind closed doors.

It was announced the Gipsy Lane crossing would be closed back in November 2016, after TV and film actress Olive McFarland, 82, was struck and killed by a train travelling at nearly 100mph on the crossing in 2011.

After looking at seven options, Network Rail drew up a scheme to close the crossing completely and divert the footpath to an existing culvert 230 metres north of the crossing, where people will pass under the line.

However, Tony Fayers, who owns the land designated to create the footpath, said he was concerned Suffolk County Council might be planning to create a bridleway or cycle path in place of or alongside the agreed footpath.

The Gipsy Lane level crossing in Needham Market.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNThe Gipsy Lane level crossing in Needham Market. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Mr Fayers claimed that the council is demanding a piece of land 3m wide, rather than the 1.5m designated by official specifications for a standard footpath.

He also argued that localised flooding, poor lighting and access issues may render it difficult or dangerous for people to use the planned diversion to the culvert – and insists creating a new underpass would be a better option.

However, Mike Norris, Needham Market ward representative for Mid Suffolk District Council (MSDC), and member of the design panel for the project, said plans to build a footpath remain unchanged – and any alternative ideas, such as a bridleway or cycle path, would have to be subject to a separate application.

He said: “If the intention is at some point in the future to extend the footpath to become a cycle way, that will have to be the subject of a separate planning application.

A train passes through the Gipsy Lane level crossing in Needham Market.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNA train passes through the Gipsy Lane level crossing in Needham Market. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“At the moment, the situation is that the existing planning application is purely for a footpath only.”

Mr Norris pointed out that flooding may be an issue, and said he appreciated Mr Fayers’ concerns.

He added that it is possible that the county council may seek to extend the facility; however, this would never be agreed behind closed doors. For now, only a footpath is on the cards.

Both Network Rail and Suffolk County Council have been approached for comment.

Mr Fayers says heavy flooding in the area (pictured) does not bode well for the planned diversion. Picture: MARK FAYERSMr Fayers says heavy flooding in the area (pictured) does not bode well for the planned diversion. Picture: MARK FAYERS

Network Rail, which was fined £4m over Ms Mcfarland’s death, said it had wanted to close the crossing since the incident but first an alternative crossing had to be found in order to protect rights of way.

In 1993, Ian Cullen, 32, died when his car was involved in a collision with a Norwich-to-London train on the unmanned crossing. It had been described as “an accident waiting to happen”, yet it was still a further 13 years before it became a foot crossing only.

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Stowmarket Mercury visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Stowmarket Mercury staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Stowmarket Mercury account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Other popular content

10:32

Visitors to Stonham Barns were transported more than 1,000 years back in time as the site was transformed into a battleground fit for the Dark Ages.

Villagers in Woolpit are “furious” plans for a housing development they feel would harm the medieval centre have been allowed at appeal - and many lay the blame with the district council.

In his latest column, Suffolk Constabulary chief constable GARETH WILSON talks about how his force is dealing with the mental health pressures the job of policing can place on his staff.

4 minutes ago

Parts of a main route through one of Suffolk’s most iconic villages will be closed throughout a single week so roadworks can take place.

Local weather

Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 18°C

min temp: 6°C

Show Job Lists

Newsletter Sign Up

Stowmarket Mercury regular newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

MyDate24 MyPhotos24