Objectors warn plan for two railway bridges could hamper hopes of cycle path across Alnwick Moor

Objections have been lodged to plans to infill two bridges on a disused railway line.

Monday, 25th May 2020, 7:00 am

Highways England Historical Railways Estate is proposing to infill two bridges at Rugley and Mossyford on the former Alnwick to Cornhill branch line.

Alnwick Town Council and Alnwick Civic Society have objected because they fear the proposal could compromise potential future use of the former railway as a recreational route across Alnwick Moor.

In particular, they are keen to explore the potential of the line as a recreational cycling and walking route which could eventually link up to the National Cycle Network.

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The B6341 crosses the Mossyford bridge. Picture: Google

“The town council feel it important to create an Alnwick Greenway taking in the area where the where the bridges are located, to take the cycle/walking route a step further and ensure it is truly accessible to all including horse riders, as well wheelchair and mobility scooter users,” it writes in its letter of objection.

“The track bed is believed to be in the ownership of the Northumberland Estates and preliminary discussions with them reveals that they would be open to its re-use for a Greenway.

“Whilst it is acknowledged that the safe use of the bridges for motorised traffic must continue, these plans have serious negative implications for any future Greenway.”

Peter Ennor of Alnwick Civic Society added: “We believe that the applicant should be aware of the strength of local feeling that future use of part of the of the former railway route from Alnwick to Cornhill, at least as far as Lemmington Bank, as a recreational route should not be compromised.”

Rugley. Picture: Google

“Alnwick is currently the only market town in Northumberland not located on the National CycleNetwork, but the recent connection along the Aln Valley Railway has increased the potential for further development, including an enhancement to the Sustrans National Cycle Network by starting to provide the only East-West cycle route between Ponteland and the Scottish border.

“Any changes now should avoid compromising the future provision of a pedestrian and cycle route.”

Highways England Historical Railways Estate is responsible for bridges, abutments, tunnels, cuttings and viaducts associated with closed railway lines.

The single span brick arch bridge on the B6341 near Mossyford is only suitable for carrying 7.5T vehicles, while the bridge at Rugley, which carries an unclassified road, is suitable only for vehicles of 3T.

A report submitted in behalf of the applicant states of both sites: “To prevent further deterioration of the bridge from occurring and remove the associated risk of structural collapse and harm to the public, it is proposed to infill the bridge to ensure the long-term stability of the bridge and road. Once the works are complete, the bridge will be unrestricted for all traffic conforming to authorised weight regulations.”

The 35.5-mile long Cornhill branch line was built in the 1880s. Passenger services were withdrawn in 1930, apart from a brief resumption in the Second World War. The line was split in two after a 1948 storm. The Alnwick to Ilderton line closed in 1953, with Wooler to Coldstream following in 1965.

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