SCRCA Note: Request to demolish Long Meg signal box (EDC Planning App 12/0781)

Submitted by mark.harvey / Fri, 09/11/2012 - 16:35
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On 4th September 2012, Network Rail submitted Planning Application Number 12/0781 to Eden District Council requesting permission to demolish Long Meg Sidings signal box (this structure) and the nearby platelayers’ hut (Location ID 290970) citing the following as their reason:

"The structures have been disused since the 1980s and are now in a very poor condition (completely stripped and vandalised apart from the LMR lever frame which, having been open to the elements for so long, is not worth re-use by Network Rail or offering to preservation bodies). Both now present a maintenance liability to Network Rail and their condition is to the detriment of the character and appearance of the S&C line."

The following documents were uploaded with the application:

  • Plans and elevations for Long Meg signalbox (this structure)
  • Plans and elevations for the platelayers’ hut (Structure ID 290970)
  • A Scope of works document; and
  • An access document. 

The Public Consultation Period ran from 20 Sep to 18 Oct 2012.

The FoSCL Committee submitted a formal response supporting the application to demolish both structures. The full text of the FoSCL response was as follows:

"Network Rail have stated in their application that: 'The Friends of the Settle Carlisle Line have been consulted and approve of Network Rail's intentions to demolish the structures.'  While this is true of Long Meg signal box, we have no record of having been consulted over the demolition of the platelayers' hut. We would stress that, as a group who are concerned to preserve the heritage of the Settle-Carlisle Line wherever possible, we can only approve of the demolition of any structure in exceptional circumstances.  In this case the fact that Long Meg signal box is of fairly recent construction (ca 1955), is derelict and an eyesore means that in our view an exception can be made in this case.  In future we would expect to seek the preservation of 19th century signal boxes when they cease to be operational. In the case of the platelayers' hut, we are in this case not raising an objection but must state that this in no way should be seen as a precedent for the demolition of any other such huts.  The hut to be demolished here is again of fairly recent red-brick construction, is not unique and has in our view no great historical value.  We would wish to see most other huts along the line preserved."

A member of the SCRCA Project Team submitted a personal response in the form of an "observation" (i.e. it neither supported, nor objected to Network Rail's Application) with the following objectives:

  1. To request justification for the application (very little was provided on the Application Form or in the form of supporting information uploaded to the EDC website).
  2. To provide the EDC Planning Dept. with photographs of, and background information on, the 13 remaining signalboxes.
  3. To request that the potential "group value" of the thirteen remaining signalboxes be investigated prior to any decision being made.

As a result of this "observation", the following additional information was provided by Network Rail to support their claim that the structures were in poor condition and that they would not be suitable for re-use:

  • Additional photographs showing the condition of the signal box
  • Additional photographs showing the condition of the platelayers hut
  • A 'Recording Report' dated 18-10-2012

A copy of research report no 28-2012 "Railway Signal Boxes: A Review" published in 2012 by English Heritage (now known as Historic England) was also provided, with Network Rail pointing-out that the Long Meg signal box was not included in the list of signal boxes recommended for listing.

It is not known if the potential "group value" of the thirteen remaining signal boxes was investigated.

On 7th November 2012 Eden District Council decided the matter under delegated powers, the decision being to GRANT conservation area consent for the demolition of this structure subject to work commencing within three years of the decision date.

The structure was demolished during the second half of January 2013 and all that remained on 31st January 2013 was a newly levelled area of ground marking its former site.