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No formal discussions over new rail bridge for 5,000-home development

PUBLISHED: 09:54 07 March 2019 | UPDATED: 10:07 07 March 2019

The underpass at Joe Blunt's Lane where a bus route could go through to serve 5,000 new homes. Picture: Conor Matchett

The underpass at Joe Blunt's Lane where a bus route could go through to serve 5,000 new homes. Picture: Conor Matchett

Archant

Fears that a muddy path under a rail bridge could be used as a bus route have deepened after it emerged there have been no formal discussions about an alternative new bridge over the railway.

The underpass at Joe Blunt's Lane where a bus route could go through to serve 5,000 new homes. Picture: Conor MatchettThe underpass at Joe Blunt's Lane where a bus route could go through to serve 5,000 new homes. Picture: Conor Matchett

The possible use of Joe Blunt’s Lane in Thetford - a popular cut through for school children - as a bus route serving the 5,000 new homes due to be built in the north of the town came to light in January.

The underpass will only be used as a bus route if a new bus bridge is not commercially viable for developers.

However, a Freedom of Information request to Network Rail shows that no formal discussions about the new bridge have taken place between Network Rail, Breckland District Council, or land promoters Pigeon.

Within the response, none of the documents or correspondence provided mention the new bus bridge and the only evidence of it is a selection of maps supplied by the engineering consultants Peter Brett Associates.

This is despite Breckland stating that talks had taken place about the bridge in the past. Pigeon also said it was not correct to say there has been no contact between it and Network Rail.

However, the use of Joe Blunt’s Lane for utilities and its conversion to a bus route has been discussed by the different parties.

Angela Charles, information officer at Network Rail, said: “The team at Network Rail involved in this project have had no information regarding a new bridge at the location in your request.

“Our role has been limited to considering the feasibility of installing/diverting utilities under the existing Joe Blunt’s Lane underbridge and looking at the feasibility of a guided bus route under the bridge.”

A spokesman for Pigeon said it was not correct to say there has been no contact between the land promoter and Network Rail.

He said: “We have discussed the proposed railway crossing many times, over many years.

“More importantly, no railway crossing will be required until Phase 3 of the development, which is many years away.

“We will of course contact Network Rail in good time about this matter.”

Breckland District Council was also contacted for comment.

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