Chance to put your views on Needham Market’s Gipsy Lane level crossing

Gipsy Lane option D underpass. ANL-151119-111413001
Gipsy Lane option D underpass. ANL-151119-111413001

Seven alternatives to a level crossing on the busy footpath in Gipsy Lane are being shown Needham Market residents for comment.

After three public meetings with Network Rail wanting a bridge and locals calling for an underpass, seven ideas from a design panel comprising Network Rail, local people and representatives of the councils involved were on show at Needham Market Community centre on Wednesday and will be there again on Saturday from 11am to 3pm.

Gipsy Lane option A bridge with its 196m ramps ANL-151119-111349001

Gipsy Lane option A bridge with its 196m ramps ANL-151119-111349001

There are two bridges: both are more than 7m high but one has 1:20 gradient ramps 196m long and the other has a combination of steps and a switchback ramp 123.8m long on the longest side.

There are underpass options to each side of the crossing, plus the idea of converting an existing culvert about 200m north of it.

There are two diversions using existing routes. One goes south along Stowmarket Road,through Hawks Mill underpass then uses Footpath Seven to go back to the Gipsy Lane footpath, adding 1.3km.

The other goes north on Stowmarket road and uses an existing private access bridge and track back to Gipsy Lane footpath, adding 1.4km.

A visualisation of the Gipsy Lane Crossing Option E culvert conversion ANL-151118-175147001

A visualisation of the Gipsy Lane Crossing Option E culvert conversion ANL-151118-175147001

Residents’ representative on the panel, Graham Oxenham, said: “We’ve had three design panel meetings and the next will look at the feedback from the public.”

He said he hoped Network Rail would use the design panel method for other crossings it wants to close.

Mid Suffolk District Cllr Mike Norris said: “I would support the underpass at Gipsy Lane which was what locals preferred out of the original options offered by Network Rail because a bridge in the Gipping Valley countryside location would look awfully out of place.

“The exhibition provides a vital chance for everyone to make their preference known before the final decision is made.”

District councillor Wendy Marchant said: “ It would seem the worst option would still be a great big ugly bridge, which would be difficult for a lot of people to negotiate, but the best option is still to be decided.”

Town council chair Josephine Lea said she hoped the council could discuss the idea with Network Rail in the next few weeks. She added: “A good thing the exhibition is showing is that all the possible options have been considered.”

The crossing links with long distance paths and is a route from Creeting St Mary to a bus stop on Stowmarket Road. A survey showed 87 people a day use it at weekends and 78 on weekdays, when more than 150 trains pass.

The options can be seen and commented on at www.networkrail.co.uk/gipsylane