Objectors say new railway platform in Toftwood would have ‘no benefit’ to community

Westfield Lane in Toftwood near Dereham. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Westfield Lane in Toftwood near Dereham. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

Plans for a new railway platform and waiting room on a heritage railway line have been described as a 'cheap sweetener' to a proposed housing development.

The proposed housing development site in Toftwood. Picture: Ian Burt

The proposed housing development site in Toftwood. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

There have already been widespread objections to plans by Glavenhill Strategic Land to build 291 homes on greenfield land on the edge of Toftwood from town and parish councils, wildlife and access groups and local residents.

The Mid Norfolk Railway also raised concerns about increased traffic on the Westfield Lane bridge over the railway line if it were to go ahead and asked that the development include a footbridge to make it safer for pedestrians.

But now the developer has submitted a plan for a new railway platform and waiting area just on the edge of its earmarked land.

A planning statement prepared by Lanpro states that the proposal 'will allow the Mid Norfolk Railway Trust to provide an additional stop on its heritage line to allow visitors to benefit from the open and recreational space which will be provided by the proposals which are currently under consideration'.

Lanpro drawing of proposed railway platform as it would sit alongside a proposed housing development

Lanpro drawing of proposed railway platform as it would sit alongside a proposed housing development on the edge of Toftwood - Credit: supplied

But a spokesman for the campaign group Toftwood Life Community said: 'This is a cheap sweetener instead of the preferred footbridge that MNR suggested.'

She added: 'We can see no benefit whatsoever to the community to have this additional waiting area. There are also no toilet facilities, cafe facilities or shops available or even close in the vicinity.

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'How will they stop this from becoming the local hang out for youths, therefore making the railway track an even bigger hazard?'

The proposal includes a 62 metre railway platform and 12 person waiting room and it will be owned and managed by the Mid Norfolk Railway.

John Hull, vice-chairman of the MNR, said the platform was offered to the railway and makes no difference to their position regarding the housing development.

He said: 'Our involvement in this development is concerned simply with protecting the railway's interests. The Glavenhill development, if approved, will create significant additional traffic over our bridge at Westfield Lane and also over the Yaxham Road level crossing. As such we have asked for improvements to be made to the bridge and to the level crossing lights, in order to improve the safety of both road and rail users.'

A spokesman for Lanpro said the platform and waiting room would not get built if the housing development was refused.

'It is not a case of getting the railway on side,' he said. 'It is one of number of benefits linked to the scheme that will offset the impact of the development. The decision ultimately lies with Breckland and this is just one of the component parts. We know there are objections but there are those that support it too.'

* What do you think? Email kathryn.cross@archant.co.uk.

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