Deadline for plan to renew Plumpton’s Grade II listed level crossing

Level crossing protesters
Level crossing protesters

Tomorrow (September 18) is deadline day for Plumpton’s historic, Grade II Listed level crossing.

This Friday (September 18) is deadline day for Plumpton’s historic Grade II Listed level crossing.

Network Rail wants to replace the historic railway gates at the level crossing with a modern ‘drop down’ barrier complete with lights, sirens and new signs. The plan met with anger from the village and the parish council with more than 70 people attending a demonstration last Sunday.

Before the work can begin, Lewes District Council (LDC) must give Listed Building Consent for the removal of the gates by tomorrow. If this is not forthcoming Network Rail says it will close the crossing from that date. This would divide the village in two, cut children off from school and have a serious impact on businesses and the racecourse.

The new barriers would be controlled by CCTV from Three Bridges station. At present the gates are operated manually by four signalmen. Reg Stone, vice-chairman of Plumpton Parish Council, said they would be made redundant if the new barriers were installed.

Residents are up in arms about the potential removal of the Victorian gates which, they say, are the last of their type on the UK rail network. They believe they are safer than unmanned gates and cannot be ‘jumped’.

Mr Stone said: “It’s important to point out that local people accept some modernisation must take place. We would be happy to see gates replicated in modern materials, preserving their unique appearance at what is the gateway to the National Park. Network Rail has shown a ruthless determination to get its own way with no concern for our heritage. Methods have been bullying and arrogant to the Nth degree. The demolition application was put to LDC a long time ago but their decision has been subject to delay after delay after delay.”

He added that he felt the council was being pressurised by Network Rail threatening to close the road at the railway line if a decision was not made by Friday.

Network Rail says modern technology is safer, more reliable, cost effective and many factors were considered including race day traffic. It is committed to making the railway as safe, reliable and efficient as possible and the plans are part of a national move to improve safety and centralise signalling operations.