ROTHER VALLEY PLANNING APPLICATION APPROVED
Local councillors have unanimously approved the Rother Valley Railway’s plans to reconnect the Kent & East Sussex Railway to the main line at Robertsbridge. At a meeting on March 16, all 15 members of the Rother District Council (RDC) Planning Committee voted for the RVR’s application to reinstate the missing two miles of the railway, between Northbridge Street and Junction Road. This will fill the gap between the two sections already laid eastwards from Robertsbridge and west from Bodiam. When complete, the line will be operated by the KESR - which will then be 13½ miles long in total, from Tenterden to Robertsbridge. Planning approval allows the RVR to apply to Parliament for a Transport & Works Act Order (TWAO), giving statutory powers to rebuild the line. RVR Press Officer Mark Yonge commented: “The unanimous approval shows the strength of support for the project.” Some locals have expressed concerns regarding the planned level crossing over the A21 bypass, and increased parking in Robertsbridge itself. RVR Chairman Gardner Crawley said: “Their fears will be addressed as the scheme progresses and it is to be hoped that the economic benefits of the scheme will become apparent. “The remaining landowners have additionally expressed concern, and the RVR fully appreciates that a railway crossing their farms represents some disruption. The RVR has met with the three landowners and will continue to engage with them with a view to acquiring the original trackbed by agreement. “All of this work is financed by private benefactors, without recourse to public funds. Independent studies have shown that the reinstatement of the RVR will bring economic benefits in excess of £2 million a year to the area. “To date, the RVR has spent over £3m in implementing the criteria of Rother District Council’s Policy EM8 and looks forward to the council’s continuing support to complete the project.” The main line connection at Robertsbridge was officially opened by Network Rail Chairman Sir Peter Hendy on December 6 2016 (SR462).