UPDATED: A deputation from Uckfield is going to Westminster just before Christmas to argue the case for Network Rail to be allowed to take over the town’s former station site.
Local authorities – East Sussex County Council, Wealden District Council and the town council – are keen the site should become a car park and part of a future transport “hub” for the town if the rail line to the south is reopened.
They believe ownership by Network Rail is the best way of achieving that aim.
The delegates are due to meet the Minister of State for Transport Simon Burns on December 13 at the House of Commons. The meeting has been arranged by the Uckfield town centre steering group.
Pictured (below) a rare sight: an empty Uckfield station car park, taken in the summer of 2011 before the first train had left. The car park has only a handful of spaces.
Brigton Mainline 2
Campaign group Brighton Mainline 2, said in a statement: “The land, currently in possession of the soon-to-be-abolished ‘quango’ the British Rail Board Residuary (a company owned by the Secretary of State for Transport) is due to be passed to London and Continental Railways (a company also owned by the Secretary of State for Transport).
“However, Network Rail has recently asked for ownership “for operational reasons and to safeguard future rail capacity needs” whereby efforts are now being made to persuade the Government and senior civil servants at the Department for Transport to sensibly hand over the land to Network Rail.
“Only last month, Lord Berkeley tabled a question in the House of Lords, asking the Government to accede to Network Rail’s request so that progress can be made, not only in protecting future capacity needs between London and the Sussex Coast, but help ease the plight of commuters on the Uckfield – London services.
“Unfortunately, Earl Attlee, speaking on behalf of the Government, declined.”
The site could provide spaces for around 130 cars. It would help ease parking pressures in the town and could be developed quickly and be open next year.
The car park would be accessed from the former entrance to the station yard, in front of the pub.
BML2 said: “The worrying threat of an unpopular local road scheme breaching the trackbed of the only alternative to the overloaded Brighton Line has been quashed.
“Following its public consultation, East Sussex County Council has withdrawn a plan to build a new road across the all-important station site in the centre Uckfield. A letter in July from the British Rail Board Residuary, confirmed that ESCC “has recently decided not to proceed with this.”
'Write to Minister'
Network Rail is seeking the old station and former goods yard site as part of a disposal process being undertaken by BRB (Residuary), which manages the rump of the former British Rail.
Town councillor Duncan Bennett is urging people to write a “short but direct” letter to the Minister requesting that the transfer of land to Network Rail takes place:
The Rt Hon Simon Burns MP, Department for Transport, Great Minster House, 33Horseferry Road, London, SW1P 4DR.
*The delegation will not be discussing the case for reopening the rail line south of Uckfield at the meeting.