Councillors reject Persimmon Homes plea to alter rail underpass agreement on new Doncaster estate 

An underpass is expected to be built off Kelsey Gardens in Bessacarr joining the new Manor Farm estate. Pictured is a level crossing at nearby Carr Lane.
An underpass is expected to be built off Kelsey Gardens in Bessacarr joining the new Manor Farm estate. Pictured is a level crossing at nearby Carr Lane.

Councillors have unanimously dismissed pleas from a developer to alter their agreement to build a rail underpass on a new Doncaster estate. 

Persimmon Homes who are building hundreds of properties on Manor Farm, Bessacarr, were granted permission in 2009 on the condition they would construct the underpass from Kelsey Gardens when 150 homes were occupied. 

But developers admitted they had surpassed the figure and told councillors on the planning committee on Tuesday 194 homes were occupied and subsequently requested a change to the Section 106 agreement to increase occupancy to 250. 

A number of councillors and nearby residents objected to the proposal on safety grounds. 

Steve Hind from Network Rail, the statutory consultee on rail safety, told councillors they were fully supportive of Persimmon’s application and said that ‘risk is as low as practically possible’.  

He added that plans were being drawn up to close the line in April 2020 in preparation for work to start on the underpass. 

Robin McGinn from Persimmon said 250 homes would be occupied by June/July 2020.

Councillors Tosh McDonald, Richard Allan Jones and resident Phil Midgely spoke at the planning meeting against the plans. 

Coun McDonald citing his involvement as president of train drivers union ASLEF said an increase in occupancy increased the risk to residents. 

“We need to be done away with the rail crossings – they were built in Victorian times and are not fit for purpose.  

“I’ve been to numerous inquests supporting drivers when people have been hit by trains – the impacts on the families of the victims, the train drivers and their families is horrendous.” 

Coun John Healy who sits on planning committee, said: “There are 140 crossings a day here and fencing will not stop someone who wants to cross. 

“I’m not here about money I’m here about something which will contribute to a lack of safety.

“That’s why I’m opting for option two. This will push all involved to get the underpass constructed.”

Mexbrorough First councillor Andy Pickering said: “In 2014, Mexborough was promised a bridge after a crossing was closed – five years later, we’re still waiting. 

“I’m not confident those involved will get on with this if we allow the amended figure.” 

Councillors voted nine to zero to dismiss the application. 

They agreed Persimmon could continue building the properties provided not one more home would be occupied until the rail underpass was built. But members decided not to implement enforcement action on the developer.