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Concerns over plans for railway bridge at Beverley station

Plans to modernise the footbridge at Beverley railway station would cause ‘substantial harm’ to the appearance of the area, it has been alleged.

A planning application has been submitted to strengthen and refurbish the bridge, and remove the wooden canopy which has been in place for more than 130 years.

Network Rail says the new facility ‘will add to the overall quality of the station by ensuring that a fit for purpose bridge is delivered which is delivered to a high standard’ and it insists that ‘modern standards dictate that the only way to continue to safely use the current bridge is to remove the canopy’.

“Whilst we acknowledge that the proposed works will cause significant harm, the public benefits of the proposed works outweigh the loss of the canopy itself,” the application admits.

“They are not an honest repair and would affect the architectural and historic integrity of the bridge as a part of the listing.”

stephen walker

But a council conservation officer says the designs submitted would not be ‘an honest repair’ of the Grade II listed station.

Beverley Civic Society says the canopy is in need of attention given the ‘disappointing lack of maintenance over the years’.

But it is also unhappy with the current proposals and in response to the application said: “The present canopy provides shelter to passengers crossing the line from the adverse weather and effects of the wind tunnel.

“Should the present structure really be beyond restoration, the society advocates that a new
structure be commissioned made from suitable modern materials designed to respect the visual listed benefit of the current canopy, and to protect pedestrians.”

Plans to upgrade the bridge were first announced in January 2020, when Network Rail said £600,000 would be invested ‘to improve passenger experience and enhance the look and feel of the station’.

A planning application was submitted to East Riding Council last month and states: “The current footbridge is in a poor state of repair and is structurally failing.

“There is a need to undertake major refurbishment works to the bridge. This will ensure that the bridge is safe to use and that it will be preserved in the long-term.

“Significant design work and evolution has been undertaken to ensure that the final design and proposals are the optimum solution both for the operational railway and the historical environment.

“The proposals contained within this application are seen as the best solution for resolving the issues with Beverley station footbridge.”

But in response to the application, the council’s senior conservation officer Stephen Walker, said: “It is considered that the works would amount to substantial harm by the loss of historic fabric to the listed building and resulting loss of the aesthetic appearance of the bridge canopy upon the station and character and appearance of the Beverley Conservation Area.

“The re-instatement of the parapets will additionally be undertaken using modern materials and not to the original design of the NER bridge.

“They are therefore not an honest repair and would affect the architectural and historic integrity of the bridge as a part of the listing.”

The bridge was built in the mid 1880s and it is thought the wooden canopy was not part of the original design, but was added several years later.

Network Rail said the canopy ‘has become a key feature of the bridge over time’.

Its application said: “The removal of this canopy will significantly affect the appearance of the bridge but following detailed assessment of the structure and consideration of a number of options …. it is our opinion that the loss is unavoidable.”

Having decided that removing the canopy is the only viable option, attempts have been made to find a new home for it.

Both the North Yorks Moors Railway and the National Railway Museum declined an offer of taking the canopy for re-location on their own NER bridges.

Network Rail has looked into the options or relocating the canopy to a museum or work with a heritage partner, but due to its size and scale, efforts have been unsuccessful.

When the plans were announced in 2020, Matt Rice, Route Director for Network Rail’s North and East Route, said: “Beverley station is a listed building, so it is really important that this work is carried out in a way which will preserve the heritage for years to come.

“We look forward to beginning work and to passengers feeling the benefit once complete.”

The town’s MP Graham Stuart gave his support to the investment and it was stated work should start early in 2022, and be finished later this year.

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