Latest 2018 BML2 Project Publication

Design2158 What BML2 will do for

Kent and Tunbridge wells

The 14pp report can be downloaded for viewing and printing by clicking on the image. Please circulate to friends and colleagues and if appropriate, to local Tunbridge Wells and Kent councillors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coalition’s commitment to Lewes – Uckfield questioned

Dissatisfied with the answers given last month by Earl Attlee, the Government’s Transport Spokesman in the House of Lords, further questions have been tabled this week by Labour Peer, Lord Berkeley:

 

He asked Her Majesty’s Government: “Further to the answer by Earl Attlee on 6 October, whether the route of the former Lewes – Uckfield line is safeguarded by Wealden and Lewes District Councils and by East Sussex County Council; and whether any new county road construction in Uckfield crossing the route of the line and proposed new station will use a bridge to enable the line to be reopened at a later stage.”

 

Responding, Earl Attlee said: “A Safeguarding Direction can only be issued by the Secretary of State. There is no such direction currently in place for the Lewes – Uckfield line.”

 

He went on to say: “However, the trackbed is protected from development by the planning policies of both Wealden and Lewes District Councils. Whether the proposed new road in Uckfield is built with a bridge over the trackbed is a matter for the County Council and the planning process”.

 

Campaign Director Brian Hart said afterwards “This statement should not only ring alarm bells in Network Rail – which said recently it will protect the route – but also among MPs and all those regional authorities between London and Brighton who support reopening this main line.”

 

Following abolition of County Structure Plans in 2004, the route’s only protection lies within recommended policies in the replacement ‘Local Development Frameworks’ of the much less-powerful District Councils. However, East Sussex County Council, as the local transport authority, will have no difficulty over-riding them.

 

Given the serious implications of this issue, as voiced by Transport Minister Norman Baker, a Safeguarding Direction should be issued immediately by Justine Greening, the new Secretary of State for Transport. Many people will hope Norman Baker will pursue this – as he did in opposition. We also think Wealden MP and Energy Minister Charles Hendry, in whose constituency the land falls, needs to speak to the Secretary of State.

 

In 1999 Norman Baker wrote to Labour’s Transport Minister Glenda Jackson, saying:

“Dear Glenda, You will have received a letter early in July from Brian Hart, of the Wealden Line Campaign, concerning a planning application to redevelop Uckfield station. Mr Hart feels that this application would prejudice the reopening of the Lewes to Uckfield Railway Line and I am writing to you to let you know that I share this view. I am also writing because it appears that the application is being pursued by Rail Property Ltd which, unless I am mistaken, operates under the British Rail umbrella. There is of course a moratorium on rail land sites in place, and I am at a loss to understand how this can be progressing, particularly as the implications of it are so serious. Could you please clarify for me whether this is being pursued by British Rail and if so what action you feel able to take to stop it.”

 

The ultimate irony is the Conservatives can only pursue selling this strategic railway land because they have the support of Norman Baker and his fellow Liberal Democrat MPs.