A new £8m bridge could be built as part of plans for more than 200 new homes in a Craven village.
Harron Homes would fund the new bridge over the railway line as part of a proposal to build around 220 houses on land at Ashfield Farm, which is next to a level crossing, in Cross Hills. The plans, which are at an early stage, could pave the way for Cross Hills Railway Station to be reopened.
Craven Council Leader Councillor Richard Foster said: “This is a really interesting proposal for us to explore, however, there is considerable work required to understand the feasibility and viability of a new bridge and will be subject to consultation with communities in the area. If a viable project this may partially address the traffic issues that affect the south Craven villages and also remove the key barrier to re-opening Cross Hills Station.”
A previous application by Harron homes to build 50 homes on the site was withdrawn.
David Smurthwaite, Craven Council’s strategic manager for planning and regeneration, said: “Because the level crossing is on the Airedale Line and it carries a lot of freight it can be down for 40 minutes in an hour. The bridge would mean that people would be able to avoid the level crossing. That would stop the delays and congestion that back onto the dual carriageway (A629).
“Re-opening Cross Hills Station has been an aspiration for a long time. One of the big barriers we have got is that the level crossing is right next to the station. If we had a bridge instead of a level crossing that would allow the re-opening of the station to be reconsidered.”
Ashfield Farm was not one of the original sites in Craven Council’s Draft Local Plan.
Councillor Graham Beck, who represents Cross Hills and Glusburn on Craven Council, said: “In principle I support looking at anything that considers building a bridge over that railway. Any possibility of building a bridge must be explored fully. We need to engage the local residents of Cross Hills and Glusburn. This is probably the most important thing that would happen within the local community for a long time. The level crossing is down quite a lot; it is a long-standing transport issue in Craven.”
North Yorkshire county councillor for South Craven, Coun Philip Barrett, also called for the proposal to be fully explored.
He said: “I would stress though that it’s early days but if, and I stress if, it did prove to be an option then it would be subjected to full public consultation later this year as a potential land allocation in the draft Local Development Plan. It’s vital that the public are fully engaged and have their say on what would be such a major planning matter affecting south Craven.
“The long running transport infrastructure problems in south Craven are a major concern locally and on which I am contacted about regularly as county councillor.”
Craven Council received 864 individual comments during its latest consultation on its Draft Local Plan.
A small number of sites received a “significant number” of objections, notably the proposal for 65 new homes on Sutton Lane at Sutton-in-Craven, and the local authority says the options in those parishes will now be reviewed. Ashfield Farm is among a number of new sites suggested across Craven which may offer alternatives to those in the draft local plan.