'Common sense has prevailed' - 13 Suffolk level crossings saved from closure
- Credit: Geoff Knight/The Ramblers
Rail foot crossings described as "greatly valued" have been saved from permanent closure following a public inquiry.
Network Rail had moved to bulk close a number of pedestrian rail crossings across Suffolk, including Cattishall to the east of Bury St Edmunds, Weatherby at Newmarket and Brantham Sea Wall path.
Out of a total of 22 public crossings put forward for closure by Network Rail, 13 have been saved by the Secretary of State for Transport - two years after the original public inquiry in 2018.
Suffolk County Council and West Suffolk Council enlisted the services of a barrister to contest some of the proposed closures, while the Suffolk Ramblers group was among others objecting.
John Griffiths, Leader of West Suffolk Council, said: "I am delighted with this outcome, which was built on knowledge of the impact closure would have on local people’s lives.
"In these days of sustainable travel, we successfully argued that the distance and gradient of the proposed diversionary route in Newmarket was too far and too steep and would oblige people to get back into the car.
"The Cattishall crossing gives access to open countryside for Moreton Hall residents, and a brand new development has also been planned around it."
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Jim Richards, footpath secretary for Suffolk Ramblers, which helped prevent 11 of the closures, said "common sense has prevailed".
"The Secretary of State has appreciated the value of the path network both for everyday journeys and for recreational and health use.
"We and others greatly value these routes, for differing reasons – Weatherby crossing at Newmarket is in use all the time for routine journeys, while the Sea Wall path gives an unparalleled sense of remoteness and connection with nature.
"They all have their purpose and we’re glad they’ve been kept."
The full list of the 13 crossings that have been saved are: Sea Wall, Brantham High Bridge, Buxton Wood at Bentley, Stacpool at Needham Market, Fords Green at Bacton, Weatherby at Newmarket, Higham, Higham Ground Frame, Cattishall, Barrels at Thurston, Grove Farm at Thurston, Mutton Hall at Wetherden, and Bacton.
Alexander Nicoll, deputy cabinet member for transport at Suffolk County Council, said: "I welcome this outcome and credit much of its success to the united front shown by Suffolk County Council and West Suffolk Council.
"Our focus on sustainable travel includes the rail network as well as cycling and walking. Closing these pedestrian crossings reduces opportunities to make sustainable travel choices which I believe people increasingly expect to be given."