Back in 2008 a group of volunteers at the C&W Dept drew up some plans for a new parts storage shed and a large extension to the existing C&W works, with the main objective of providing much-needed additional covered storage for approximately 20 carriages.
With the authorisation of the BRPS Trustees and the plc board, and after more than 3 year's work including site investigations, planning consultations with all stakeholders, and fundraising within the C&W Dept, (and with some generous match-funding from the Bluebell Railway Trust), in mid July a formal planning application was made to Mid-Sussex District Council.
Planning Permission granted
The Railway has now received full planning permission for the construction of both a parts storage shed and a carriage storage shed extension, which will also include provision for offices, workshops, meeting room, moquette store, and toilet facilities on the eastern flank of the new extension.
The costs of the necessary site surveys, building design work, plans drawing and planning application preparation were kept to a minimum through the outstanding help and support given by a number of volunteers with the appropriate knowledge and skills. With their invaluable help, the final costs for the planning preparation and application are estimated to come in under budget, and will be met entirely through internal fundraising and the match-funding from the Trust.
Matthew Cousins' sketch to the right shows the initial thoughts (2008) on the project design - the finalised plan actually has 4 tracks rather than 3 in the storage part to the right, and just one road (the maintenance/pit road) in the middle part of the extension. The two sections on the left are the existing carriage shed/works. The sketch below, slightly adapted by Richard Salmon, shows the approximate shape of the planned shed as viewed from the station end, incorporating the lean-to offices and workshops on the extreme left. Again, the details of the 2011 plan is slightly different from the 2008 sketch, as can be seen from the block plan which was part of our planning application, which is also shown below (click on the plan for an enlargement).
The principal conditions applying to the approval are that the foul and surface water drainage scheme must be submitted to and approved by the local planning authority before any construction work takes place, and that the new shed extension should only be used for the storage, restoration, repair and maintenance of carriages and wagons. As long as work starts within 3 years of the approval date, the Railway will have the planning approval in perpetuity, thus allowing time to raise the necessary funding, estimated at £1.25 million at current prices.
The first construction priority will be to build the new parts storage shed at the south end of the site. Along with the use of some temporary 'portacabins', this will facilitate the clearance of the existing time-expired buildings and containers from the development site, to make way for the construction of the new storage shed and office/workshop/toilet complex. The new building will be in the same style and 'Southern' colours as the previous extension to the C&W works, and will vastly improve the appearance of the site.
Fundraising plans to meet the estimated costs of the development will be drawn up in consultation with the recently appointed BRPS Fundraising Committee, and fundraising activity will commence once the Bluebell's Northern Extension Project has been completed.
The project is already a stated objective within the 2007 BRPS Long Term Plan, and could now come under the title of "Operation Undercover 4A". Further information will be available once the draft 2012 Long Term Plan is presented for consideration at the next AGM.
The success in achieving planning permission for the C&W extension secures the real prospect of providing the extra weather-proof storage accommodation the Railway so desperately needs, as well as making a huge improvement to the appearance of the eastern side of the Horsted Keynes site.
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