Venue: Hollingbourne Village Hall, Eyhorne Street, Hollingbourne ME17 1TR
Contact: Andrew Tait 03000 416749
The Panel noted that Mr I S Chittenden had sent his apologies for the meeting and that Mr J N Ozog had agreed to serve on the Panel after the agenda papers had been published.
(1) The Panel Members visited the application site before the meeting. The visit was also attended by Ms Nicola Mee and Mr Toby Broyad from Network Rail, Mr Patrik Garton, the local Borough Councillor and Mrs Shellina Prendergast (Local Member).
(2) The Definition Officer began her presentation by saying that the application to divert part of public footpath KH183 at Hollingbourne had been made by Network Rail, in the interests of safety, to remove the at grade foot crossing from the railway line and to run the path over the existing station stepped footbridge. The key risk drivers were the Insufficient sighting or warning time of approaching trains; fast and frequent trains; sun glare (although the crossing did not rely solely on sighting); crossing configuration; and proximity to Hollingbourne station.
(3) the Definition Officer went on to say that although there had been no recorded incidents of near misses or fatalities at the level crossing, Network Rail considered there to be a likelihood of a serious incident due to the lack of visual warning of approaching trains, leading to insufficient time for users to pass over the level crossing. The sighting could not be improved, and the proximity of the level crossing to Hollingbourne Station reduced the options available to Network Rail to carry out works or to install other mitigation measures. It was for these reasons that Network Rail felt that the closure of the crossing and the proposed footpath diversion to the adjacent station footbridge was the best option.
(4) The Definition Officer then quoted the Legislation relating to the diversion of a public path. This was contained within Section 119A of The Highways Act 1980:
“(a) The Council may make an Order to divert a public path if it is satisfied that it is in the interests of the safety of users or likely users of at grade crossings.
(b) particular consideration has to be given to whether or not it is reasonably practicable to make the existing crossing safe for the public and what arrangements will be made to erect and maintain barriers and signs at the closed crossing.”
(5) Government Guidance contained in Rights of Way circular (1/09) Guidance for Local Authorities stated:
“While other criteria are not specified in section 119A, the new way should be reasonably convenient to the public and authorities should have regard to the effect that the proposal will have on the land served by the existing path or way and on the land over which the new path or way is to be created. Consideration should also be given to the effect that the diverted way will have on the rights of way network as a whole and the safety of the diversion, particularly where it passes along or across a vehicular highway.”
(6) The Definition Officer then set out the responses of consultees. Councillor Patrik Garten had objected to the proposal, stating there are no recorded incidents or near misses at the crossing. He believed that as Hollingbourne ... view the full minutes text for item 2.