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Sunday, 26 October 2014

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Carlisle Viaduct fences to remain in place

Steel security fences that keep people off Carlisle’s disused Waverley railway viaduct look set to stay for another year at least.

Waverley fences photo
Security fences on the Waverley Viaduct

British Rail Board (Residuary), which is responsible for the Grade II-listed structure, put up the fences in 2009 as a temporary measure to stop vandalism.

It reapplied in 2011 to keep them for another three years but was knocked back by the city council, which granted permission only for 12 months.

British Rail is now asking for a further “temporary” consent for three years.

Again, planning officers say it should be given one year – until January 31, 2014 – in the hope that a trust might take on the viaduct and reopen it as a pedestrian route.

Their report says: “Whilst the current fencing is unsightly, its retention for a further temporary 12-month period would be acceptable whilst a long-term solution is sought.”

Councillors have the final say when the development control committee meets on Friday.

More than 2,400 people signed a petition in 2010 calling for the viaduct to be reopened. And there have been 36 objections to British Rail’s latest planning application. The Ramblers’ Association has also registered its opposition.

Objectors argue that the fences are an eyesore. Taking them down would give walkers and cyclists a link across the Eden from the Cumberland Infirmary to Etterby and Stainton.

According to planning officers, British Rail wants to transfer ownership of the viaduct to another body and is prepared to pay a lump sum to cover maintenance.

Alternatively, it would lease the sandstone structure to an organisation prepared to take responsibility for the parapets, footpath and waterproofing.

The planning officers’ report says: “The council has been in discussions with British Rail but does not have the resources to enter into a lease.”

It adds that the landowner on the northern bank will not allow pedestrians to cross his land to get from the viaduct to the public footpath along the river.

So removing the barriers would encourage trespass.

The report says: “Unless this can be resolved then the provision of public access would not be appropriate.”

Councillor James Bainbridge, whose ward covers the northern bank of the Eden, also wants the fences to stay.

The viaduct carried the Carlisle-Galashiels-Edinburgh railway, which closed to passengers in 1969.

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