As you will be aware, the Railway faces the awesome task this year of raising the £4 million needed to complete the final stage of the extension back into East Grinstead. Members must appreciate that finding this money is going to be tough and we must ALL consider ways in which this can be done. We have to be realistic and seek every opportunity available to us.
The Railway has identified a possible opportunity to develop 2 plots of land on the east side (brick works side) of the former West Hoathly station site. These plots are immediately to the north and to the south of the existing foot crossing and fall within the West Hoathly village envelope. Following approval of the proposal by both the Plc Board and the Society Trustees, an application for planning consent has now been submitted to Mid Sussex District Council.
If the application is successful, it is proposed to build two large detached homes on this land, the sale of which could realise a significant sum towards the preliminary costs of removing Imberhorne Tip. The land is not required for the future operation of the Railway and all necessary covenants to protect the Railway will be included in any sale. I must stress that no other land within Bluebell ownership is being readied for disposal. You should also be aware that the railway has made an application to extend the West Hoathly building envelope to the West side of the site, this has been done to protect our interests in the long term should we wish to re-instate a station or carry out any other work in the long term future.
It would not be possible to build a new station on the site of the former station as current HMRI regulations do not permit a "new build" on what is a gradient. Any future station at West Hoathly (for which plans are in preparation) would most likely be located on the level stretch from the end of the Goods yard towards New Coombe Bridge. This site is unaffected by the current application.
I hope that members will recognise that decisions like this are taken in the best long term interests of the Railway and that the Directors are fulfilling their obligations to ensure that the Society's wishes are carried out.
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