Historic bridge saved – for now

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A RAILWAY bridge has been given a stay of execution after Network Rail failed to provide enough information to back up their bid to demolish the cast iron structure.

Bridge 42, a Grade 2 listed structure, built in Whaley Bridge in the 1860s is part of the Buxton to Manchester line, High Peak Council’s development control committee heard.

However, Network Rail say structural defects mean the bridge must be demolished and replaced as repair or refurbishment had been discounted.

Mike Green, the Council’s Head of Development Services, said the firm wanted to remove the current 10mph speed limit across the bridge and enable the line to carry more freight.

The Development Control Committee were told that repairs and maintenance were needed on Dove Holes Tunnel and freight traffic from the quarries would need to be re-routed along the line.

Network Rail had been asked a series of questions but their answers were lacking in detail. Mr Green said: “I am very concerned about the detail provided in response.”

He also advised members that it would be unwise to give consent when it was not known what it was to be replaced with.

Resident Jon Goldfinch said English Heritage had made it clear demolition should only be granted if a strategic and operational case was made and it would benefit the community: “Network rail’s answers are entirely devoid of meaningful data,” said Mr Goldfinch.

He said it raised questions about the computer model used for the stress analysis of the bridge as it was calculated for a different number of arches and tracks.

Sue Wood from Network Rail said the bridge had been hit by lorries and the replacement structure would help them meet strategic requirements, reduce HGV traffic, provide an alternative to the nearly full Manchester to Sheffield line and allow for further growth in freight traffic.

Ward member Cllr John Pritchard said an even older cast iron bridge in Staffordshire had been successfully repaired and questioned if that would be possible with bridge 42: “I ask members to conclude that case for demolition has not been made.”

Cllr John Faulkner said: “I completely agree with the officers recommendation here. The questions have not been answered.”

Mr Green suggested a letter be sent along with the refusal notice to offer a pre-application service and state that they would like public consultation to be carried out about the replacement bridge.