On Monday 13th February 2017, David Bill (Director), Joe Penfold (Holt Liaison) and Paul Young (Project Officer) members of the Norfolk Orbital project met with Steve Turner from the Office of Rail and Road, who deals with all the Heritage Railways in the UK.
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the development of the rail route into Holt and identify the issues. The crossing at the Old Cromer Road was considered to be the first priority. A traffic survey is to be conducted and then a business case for a crossing is to be put to ORR for consideration. The business case is to outline the safety aspects, traffic use and benefits to the town of installing it. Crossings are not popular due to the number of fatalities so it has to be a strong case. We would obviously need to consult with Holt Town Council and the NNR to gauge their views. So it would be a well rounded proposal and would not be a stand alone. If a crossing is not approved then options would be a tunnel or a bridge.
Clearances were then noted and in places they do appear to be ‘tight’ in one area with the numerous new developments currently under construction. However with the measurements that have been taken this pinch point should be workable. We are waiting confirmation from ORR as to their requirements and then we can go to Norfolk Highways and Holt Town Council to discuss. The footprint of the new roundabout currently being constructed on the Holt bypass will not encroach onto the rail corridor. It would of been helpful if this roundabout could of been offset to the East by a few metres but this request was not factored in so we will have to work with it.
A public consultation was also suggested as being set up to gauge the current feeling of support within the local community. This would need to be done working closely with Holt Town Council and Norfolk Highways. The current Orbital project has been running now for almost twenty years and public opinion has been tested in this time with mixed results. It has to be remembered that the Orbital project is being run solely by a small and dedicated voluntary team, many who have other commitments and full time jobs. If there is a high level of support then funding options for staffing the project could be considered as an option.