Published: 06:00, 01 August 2021
| Updated: 08:06, 01 August 2021
Network Rail wants to put the buffers on plans to build 45 apartments next to a railway line in Faversham - as it fears the homes could be crashed into.
The claims have been rubbished by developers behind the Station Road scheme, who argue the proposals are completely safe and beneficial to the town’s housing market.
But rail bosses believe the apartment plans are “entirely incompatible” due to the site’s close proximity to the train line.
An objection letter lodged with Swale Borough Council details the government-owned firm’s string of concerns surrounding the development - ranging from access issues to noise levels.
The rail company says it will potentially fall foul of civil claims over noise complaints from disgruntled residents when it has to carry out repair works overnight, and says its workers will be blocked from gaining 24/7 access to the tracks due to parked cars.
The strongest claim comes in the form of concerns that residents’ lives will be put at risk if there is an accident on the tracks.
Network Rail’s objection states: “Units are located in a direct line behind the buffers of a siding creating a significant safety risk in the event of a train crashing through the buffer and into the units.”
In defence of their scheme, Whitstable-based firm George Wilson Developments says the company’s concerns are unfounded.
Josh Wilson said: “They are worried about trains crashing into two units. But it makes no sense as we are going to be building them on the exact same spot where a derelict building has stood for years.
“Network Rail housed workers in there for 40 years without any crashes.
“As for the noise complaint argument, we’ve carried out acoustic tests and the sound levels are acceptable for residents.
“Not one single person is going to rock up and not realise it’s next to a rail line - they’ll know what to expect when they move in.
“Still, we’re going to be incorporating mitigation measures and minimise noise to the minimal level.
“There are brownfield sites like this all across the country.”
The land in question is an old rail yard nestled between Beaumont Terrace on the left, and Eurocenter Business Park on the right, which is also owned by George Wilson.
Faversham Recreation Ground is immediately to the north of the old railway works, and as part of the scheme, a pedestrian access route linking the rec with the railway station would be formed to shorten walking times.
The long, thin stretch of redundant land - located at the junction of the old Faversham Creek branch line - already has permission to be turned into a commercial space.
But the developers have decided to scrap the approved plans for small business units and instead opt for the apartment project.
Network Rail, however, is staunchly against the residential proposals.
“There is a key strategic road rail vehicle track access point at this location, which is in use 24 hours, including weekends,” a spokesman said.
“Though workable next to a commercial or industrial development, this would be entirely incompatible with a residential scheme.”
But Mr Wilson hit back: “They say they might be blocked from having all-hours access but they don’t have the right to tell us that. We are under no legal obligation to give them 24/7 access, but we’re happy to work with them - it’s absolutely fine.
“We’re not trying to hinder anyone.
“These aren’t material problems with the plan, we want to work with Network Rail to overcome them.
“Faversham is having a lot of housing being built at the moment, but not many apartments.”
Should the scheme be given the go-ahead, the apartments on the 2.4-acre site will comprise 25 one-bed properties and 20 two-beds, with 54 parking spaces.
The three-storey units have been designed in Victorian and Edwardian style in an effort to stay in-keeping with the architecture of the town’s historic station.