Application seeks ‘phased development’ of Rother Valley Railway
A group behind plans to extend the Tenterden-Bodiam railway line to Robertsbridge have put in a new planning application connected to the project.
In an application to Rother District Council, Rother Valley Railway Limited (RVR) are seeking planning permission to amend conditions attached to a 2017 planning permission to reinstate a long-closed line between Robertsbridge and Bodiam, extending the Kent and East Sussex Railway.
While the overall project already has planning permission, some of its more controversial elements — including the compulsory purchase of land from families who strongly oppose this — means RVR also needs special permission from the government in the form of a Transport and Works Act (TWA) Order.
In a letter submitted as part of the application, an agent acting for RVR said: “As the local planning authority is aware, the TWA Order is required to authorise the compulsory purchase and use of land and the creation of level crossings.
“Without the benefit of the TWA Order powers, the applicant cannot enter upon third party land to carry out the work required to satisfy all of the pre-commencement planning conditions.
“The public inquiry into the TWA Order application was delayed for more than a year as a direct result of the covid pandemic, ultimately sitting for 19 days before concluding on 3 September 2021.”
While the inquiry has now concluded, RVR says, the inspector’s report and final decision are not likely to come through until sometime next summer.
This could mean RVR is not able to begin construction before its current planning permission expires on March 22, 2022.
As a workaround, the group is seeking permission to amend the conditions of its original planning application so that it can carry out the work in two phases.
This work would be on a 140m section of the railway line between Junction Road and Austen’s Bridge. It would not be connected to an existing line on either end.
This section is both within RVR’s ownership and would not involve the construction of a level crossing, meaning work could begin before a final decision is made on the TWA Order.
For further information on the application see planning reference RR/2021/2598/P on the Rother District Council website.