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Rudgate bridge planning application: link to the Council's planning portal
Please record your Stance as OBJECT

The bridge carrying Rudgate over the former the Church Fenton-Harrogate branch of the York & North Midland Railway at Newton Kyme, North Yorkshire was a historic and eye-catching structure. Constructed in 1846, the highly-skewed masonry arch bridge was a product of the pioneering railway engineer John Cass Birkinshaw, thought to be the first articled pupil of Robert Stephenson with whom he worked on several of Yorkshire's railways.

A steam train passes under Rudgate bridge in 1957.

But the structure was infilled by National Highways in 2021 without any thought to its role as a reminder of our past. The work involved the unauthorised felling of trees in an area protected by a Tree Preservation Order. NH didn’t consider the environmental impacts of quarrying, transporting and placing hundreds of tonnes of aggregate and concrete in the Green Belt. This is what happens when a company with a destructive culture is allowed to avoid legitimate scrutiny of its actions.

An aerial view showing the nature of the road at Rudgate bridge.

National Highways saw this structure as a liability and wanted rid of it. To do so, it exploited permitted development rights applying only to temporary works in emergency situations. But the infilling was intended to be permanent and took place five months after the company notified the local authority of its plans. No evidence of an emergency was provided; the bridge's condition was Fair. Indeed, when it was last inspected prior to infilling, the examiner's only recommendation was to repair a nearby fence. Carrying a narrow country lane, it had an assessed capacity of 32 tonnes.

Because National Highways breached those permitted development rights by failing to seek written consent for retention of the infill beyond the maximum 12-month permitted period, North Yorkshire Council has asked it to submit a retrospective planning application.

The company’s behaviour undermines trust and confidence in public bodies. We believe the bridge should be sympathetically repaired as an important heritage asset, restoring its availability for any possible repurposing.

We ask our supporters to OBJECT to the planning application. Representations must be received by 2 April 2024.

Rudgate bridge planning application: link to the Council's planning portal
Please record your Stance as OBJECT

Via its Local Plan, Selby District Council (the local planning authority at the time of the bridge's infilling) had adopted several policies upon which objections could be based. These include:

  • SP2 Spatial Development Strategy which states that “Development in the countryside will be limited to the replacement or extension of existing buildings, the re-use of buildings preferably for employment purposes, and well-designed new buildings of an appropriate scale...”
  • SP3 Green Belt which states that “within the defined Green Belt, planning permission will not be granted for inappropriate development unless the applicant has demonstrated that very special circumstances exist to justify why permission should be granted.”
  • SP4 Management of Residential Development in Settlements which states that “In all cases proposals will be expected to protect local amenity, to preserve and enhance the character of the local area...”
  • SP13 Scale and Distribution of Economic Growth which states that “In all cases, development should be sustainable and be appropriate in scale and type to its location, not harm the character of the area...”
  • SP18 Protecting and Enhancing the Environment which states that “The high quality and local distinctiveness of the natural and manmade environment will be sustained by: 1. Safeguarding and, where possible, enhancing the historic and natural environment including the landscape character and setting of areas of acknowledged importance. 2. Conserving those historic assets which contribute most to the distinct character of the District and realising the potential contribution that they can make towards economic regeneration, tourism, education and quality of life.”
  • SP19 Design Quality which states that “Proposals for all new development will be expected to contribute to enhancing community cohesion by achieving high quality design and have regard to the local character, identity and context of its surroundings…” and “Positively contribute to an area’s identity and heritage in terms of scale, density and layout...”

The National Planning Policy Framework also provides grounds for objection, amongst which are:

  • Paragraph 135(c) which states that “Planning policies and decisions should ensure that developments…are sympathetic to local character and history, including the surrounding built environment and landscape setting...”
  • Paragraph 152 which states that “Inappropriate development is, by definition, harmful to the Green Belt and should not be approved except in very special circumstances.”
  • Paragraph 195 which recognises that heritage assets “are an irreplaceable resource, and should be conserved in a manner appropriate to their significance, so that they can be enjoyed for their contribution to the quality of life of existing and future generations.”
  • Paragraph 209 which states that “The effect of an application on the significance of a non-designated heritage asset should be taken into account in determining the application. In weighing applications that directly or indirectly affect non-designated heritage assets, a balanced judgement will be required having regard to the scale of any harm or loss and the significance of the heritage asset.”

Rudgate bridge planning application: link to the Council's planning portal
Please record your Stance as OBJECT

Rudgate bridge documentation

Reports and plans submitted by National Highways in support of its planning application.

Rudgate bridge: The HRE Group's objection

The HRE Group's objection in response to National Highways' retrospective planning application to retain the infill at Rudgate bridge, near Newton Kyme.

April 2024: PDF (4.7MB)

About Us

The HRE Group is an alliance of walking, cycling and heritage campaigners, engineers and greenway developers who regard the Historical Railways Estate’s structures to be strategically valuable in the context of building a better future.

Last updated 6 May 2024
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