Highways England has been ordered to remove thousands of tonnes of CONCRETE poured into the arch under the 159-year-old Victorian railway bridge before it grazes over rather than repairing it – after the council accused it of ‘cultural vandalism’
- National Highways sparked outrage last year by hiring workers to fill in the structure at Great Musgrave, Cumbria
- Angered heritage campaigners and stopped the path under the bridge from being developed for walkers and cyclists
- Eden District Council refused retrospective planning permission and has now served an enforcement notice
Hundreds of tonnes of concrete poured under a 160-year-old Victorian railway bridge in what campaigners called an ‘act of vandalism’ must be removed by October next year, councilors have decided.
National Highways (NH) sparked an outcry last year by hiring workers to fill in the single-arch structure in Great Musgrave, Cumbria, after claiming it was unstable and could collapse.
The work left an unsightly mess, and although the concrete was later grazed over, it obscured the original structure and prevented the path under the bridge from being developed for walkers and cyclists.
Eden District Council refused retrospective planning permission for the work in June and has now issued an enforcement notice in which NH said it would comply with the order.
Rail campaigners have criticized Highways England after it filled a historic railway bridge with concrete. Pictured: the bridge at Great Musgrave in Cumbria after being filled in by the government body, which cited safety reasons for the work
Pictured: Great Musgrave Bridge in Cumbria pictured before it was filled by Highways England
The Council issued the enforcement notice after reaching the end of a period in which NH could appeal the refusal of its retroactive application, on It was reported by the BBC.
A council spokesman said it would come into effect on October 11 and said: “This means remedial works must be completed within 12 months of that date – to remove all fill and to restore the bridge and surrounding landscape to their condition before the unauthorized works are carried out. carried out.’
Graeme Bickerdike, of the Historical Railways Estate (HRE) group – which looks after 3,200 historic railway structures – described the move as ‘great news’. He has previously described the decision to fill the bridge as a ‘scandal’.
The original work on the bridge, built in 1862, cost the taxpayer-funded NHS an estimated £124,000, while £431,000 has been set aside for the relocation work.
The Eden Valley Railway and Stainmore Railways, which run north and south of the bridge, had long hoped to merge their tracks to attract tourists.
Campaigners branded the project an ‘outrageous wrecking ball’ and claimed it would effectively destroy any chance of turning the bridge (pictured) into a greenway – stretches of land often used for recreation and pedestrian and cycle traffic
Highways England has said that the work they have carried out will preserve the structure and can be reversed in the future if necessary
Highways England, as National Highways was previously called, had said infilling was necessary to “prevent further deterioration of the bridge from occurring and remove the associated risk of structural collapse and harm to the public”.
But documents obtained by the two railroads reveal that inspectors were not concerned about the condition of the bridge.
They added that £5,000 worth of work would have increased its capacity to 40 tonnes and made it safe for any vehicle to drive over – while filling cost a whopping £124,000.
The bridge was one of 134 sites slated for demolition or infill around the country.
Britain’s evolving network of walking and cycling routes has brought new life to many old railways over the past 50 years.
In the picture: The 159-year-old bridge, which has been filled with stones as part of a strategy for maintaining the carriageway
Pictured: Great Musgrave Bridge in Cumbria pictured during filling by Highways England contractors