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Marshland saved from train interchange plan

PUBLISHED: 15:20 16 May 2019

Steve Carter, Chris Rose and Donna Zimmer campaigned against the proposal. Picture: Tom Bull

Steve Carter, Chris Rose and Donna Zimmer campaigned against the proposal. Picture: Tom Bull

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Controversial plans to concrete over 149 acres of marshland dubbed Bexley's "jewel in the crown" for a train interchange have been rejected.

Campaigners are celebrating this week as the Secretary of State supported previous rejections of the contentious railway proposals.

Roxhill Developments proposed the new line and road access close to Bob Dunn Way.

James Brokenshire, the secretary of state for housing, communites and local government as well as Old Bexley and Sidcup MP, backed up concerns that the green belt land would be unsuitably lost if the plans went ahead.

There has been huge opposition to the plans which would have seen a freight rail interchange on the much-loved marshes including a warehouse, new road access, and a bridge over the River Cray.

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Friends of Crayford Marshes have petitioned various authorities to reject the plans for several years.

This week, the group said: "The grounds for the refusal make it very difficult for anyone to come back with any kind of similar proposal, and both Bexley and the Greater London Authority are holding the line on green belt protection against 'less strategically important' uses, including housing.

"Wildlife and local community interest groups now need to get together and look at whether it will be possible to work with the landowner and others to secure and fund a better future for the marshes in the absence of the conventional rob Peter to pay Paul approach of 'developer financial contributions'."

The plans had been put forward by Roxhill Developments and originally accepted by Bexley Council, rejected by Dartford, rejected by Sadiq Khan and then a planning inspector before James Brokenshire's final say.

His decision notice explains: "Overall, it is considered that it would cause significant harm to the character and appearance of the local area and he therefore attributes significant weight to this harm."

Concerns were raised that wildlife would be lost and that passenger trains would be lost to free up space for freight trains.

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