Now Conservation Society adds voice as anger mounts over Northiam steam engine plans

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NORTHIAM Conservation Society says it has “grave concerns” over a decision by planners at Rother Council to explore the possibility of allowing giant steam locomotives to be transported down a narrow country lane.

Councillors on the planning committee went against advice from planning officers to refuse permission for private railway museum to be created on land at Higham Lane – part of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

Instead they said they would explore further options to help the applicant realise his dream.

The application is being strongly opposed by local residents and the parish council who say it will increase traffic and ruin a quiet lane.

Now, in a statement to Rother Council, the Conservation Society said: “The decision to defer seems to have been taken on the grounds of sentiment rather than for logical planning reasons. We remain strongly opposed to the application.

“Although the museum is stated as being private, it contains a large tearooms and office and there appears to be no restriction on the number of visitors that could be invited or of the means of travel used.

“If the roads are altered to allow for the transportation of locomotives, what is to stop invited visitors arriving by coach, adding to the use of Dixter Road and Higham Lane?”

Rye district councillor Sam Souster has clarified his position stating: “A comment was attributed to me that explained my long interest in steam locomotives.

“This is accurate, but my following salient point I went on to say was omitted from the report, which was that I supported the comments made by Cllr. Prochak and the local member, Cllr. Mooney, that it is a“good idea but in the wrong location”.

“I would not like the good people of Northiam to think I supported a scheme which would clearly be detrimental to the parish.”