This is an HTML version of an attachment to the Freedom of Information request 'External Contributions'.




 
It  is  important  that  National  Highways  understand  the 
Council’s view of the future of the bridge, then we can look at 
engineering solutions with that in mind.  
 
3. 
National Highways Engineers Structural Report 
 
MI discussed details from the engineers’ structural report. 
 
The main issues being that there is an increase in 
 
movement between the abutment and wing walls of the 
 
structure. The rate of cyclical movement has increased to 
 
16mm over a 6-month period and is slowly opening up more 
 
and more. 
 
 
 
The largest fracture is now at around 30mm which means 
 
simple brickwork repairs are not possible as the fractures 
 
will appear again within a year or two.  
 
 
 
The second issue is with the bridge deck - the uncertainty of 
 
the bridge capacity and weak verges on either side.  
 
 

 
 
MI discussed the duality of responsibilities between the 
 
DfT/NH and ESCC. That DfT/NH has a statutory obligation 
 
to maintain capacity to BE4 (24t on the carriageway but with 
no loading on the verges) and that ESCC has the obligation 
to maintain to BD21 (now CS454) from 24t to 40/44t. 
 
MI explained that, based on similar structures, the 
experience with these types of bridge is that the verges tend 
to be weak.  This is due to the heavy brickwork parapets 
sitting on the edge girders and using up a larger proportion 
of the available live load capacity. 
 
MI advised that NH’s predecessor, BRB(R) Ltd, contacted 
ESCC back in 2006 to advise them that, based on their BE4 
assessment, they believed that the BD21 capacity at this 
structure was likely around 3t-7.5t. 
 
MI summarised that that was the main concern with the 
deck, that it is posted at 20t but likely has a capacity in the 
3-7.5t range. 
 

Comments from East Sussex County Council 
 
RH stated that the last BD21 assessment undertaken by 
ESCC (from 2013) shows the capacity to be 7.5t, and that 
the current posted limit is 20t.  
 
JW stated that due to the location, nature and age of the 
bridge it was never going to be a 40t or even 24t bridge.  So 


 
the 7.5t capacity should not be a surprise. A further 
assessment by ESCC is required.   
 
JW suggested that 40t vehicles have likely never used this 
structure, and that it is only used by local vehicles and farm 
traffic, so there is not a risk of it being overloaded, though 
the capacity will need to be formalised. 
 
RH stated that they had 5 different assessments to BE4 and 
BD21 on file.  Several by ESCC, one by Jacobs.  Possibly a 
RSRF (Record of Structural Review Form) be undertaken 
by ESCC to summarise the situation. 
 
MI stated that, from experience, most of these types of 
bridge are assumed as only being used by cars and vans 
until any type of monitoring is put in place, at which point it 
is common to find that they are actually being used by bin 
wagons, HGVs, etc.  That is not to say that this is the case 
here, but it can’t be assumed that it is only light vehicles 
without data to support that.  It was also highlighted that 
agricultural vehicles can run up to circa 36t these days. So it 
would be useful undertake some form of traffic monitoring 
and have a plan in place for if the weight limit is being 
abused. 
 
JW advised that they can install traffic surveys to monitor 
vehicle types, though the time of year will mean that any 
agricultural vehicles that may be using it typically may not 
be using it currently. 
 
JW advised that enforcement of weight restrictions is a 
difficult issue, and one undertaken by the police.  
 
JW advised that physical restrictions would be problematic 
as they would cause issues for agricultural vehicles such as 
tractors and combine harvesters wanting to cross the 
structure, and that he was mindful of the issues that would 
be caused if these vehicles required diverting along more 
circuitous routes. 
 
HR stated that this highlighted why it is important that the 
structural issues associated with the bridge are dealt with 
properly so that we can ensure the safety of vehicles using 
it, without needing pinch-points or diversions. 
 
JW advised that they have a camera based monitoring 
system called MyVision which can be used to capture the 
vehicles currently using the structure/route. 
 


 
DP asked NH about their current monitoring regime at the 
structure. 
 
MI advised that typically all structures receive Visual 
Examinations every 12 months and Detailed Examinations 
every 6 years.  Where there are concerns we bring in 
frequent examinations, and that he believes that the 
movement is currently being monitored here either 3 months 
or monthly. 
 
5. 
Comments from Lewes District Council  
 
LP shared details of the planning policy which holds the 
 
ambition that the Lewes to Uckfield railway line could be 
 
reinstated (medium to long-term) and that any development 
 
that prevents reinstatement would not be permitted (covered 
 
by section DM37 of the local policy plan). At the very least 
 
the opportunity for a cycle route should be maintained. This 
 
is what is supported by the community, along with the 
 
ecological corridor being maintained.  
 
 
 
ZN commented that the policy is very clear and is supported 
 
by the community.  
 
 
 
IF had picked up from MI that there were potential 
 
alternative approaches to infilling and enquired what these 
 
may be. 
 
 

 
 
HR flagged that the community is most keen to protect the 
 
ecological corridor, and not an active travel route or railway, 
 
and enquired how that balanced. 
 
 
 
ZN stated that those aspirations were all equally important, 
 
and that the community is responding as it is because they 
 
understand that the preference is for infilling, so are 
 
concerned with the detrimental impact of such a course of 
 
action. The community want to ensure that the planning 
 
policy is upheld. 
 
 
 
ZN commented that if this meeting had taken place earlier 
 
then some of the issues may have been prevented, and that 
 
once the community can be advised that infilling is off the 
 
table then they will likely work with NH. 
 
 
 
MI responded that National Highways have undertaken 
 
circa 18 months of ecological surveys looking at the impact 
 
of the infilling, and the impact is low. 
 
 
 
 
 



 
MI advised that NH have been seeking engagement from 
 
Lewes District Council for the last 18 months, but have been 
 
getting very little response.  
 
 
 
MI advised that NH have engaged with the Parish Council 
 
and adjacent landowners.  
 
 
 
RC to investigate why there has been a lack of 
RC 
engagement.  He advised that Lewes usually acts to 
 
engage very positively on such things. 
 
 
 
RM advised that this highlights how much NH do to engage, 
 
but that there is only so much that they can pursue. 
 
 
 
RM stated that the various points show that there is a need 
 
to work out which are the priorities here, ecology, safety, 
active travel, etc, and that the solutions will vary dependant 
on the priority or aspirational use. 
 
RM raised the prospect of potential transfer along with the 
pros/cons. 
 
HR clarified that Lewes needs to decide what their plan is 
for this location, and a timeframe, so as to inform the 
solution. 
 
HR advised that installing a cycle route or railway would be 
detrimental to the ecological corridor, and that these were 
competing aspirations. 
 
[ADDEUMDUM: 
 
Since the meeting it has come to light that the planning 
policy advice given in the meeting was focused on a 
different rail line within the vicinity of Lewes. HGG2/1 
Barcombe Bridge, and the disused line over which it 
crosses, IS NOT protected in the Lewes Local Plan. 
 
Also, there is no existing cycle path under the bridge] 
 
HR commented that we all need a combined 
comms/engagement strategy. 
 
IF advised that community feel that they are being ignored 
and not engaged with.  That we need to openly discuss the 
situation, the issues and the options.  Need to state that we 


 
are all taking the time to ensure that the right situation is 
being picked, and not rushed through. 
 
IF asked whether there was time for this given the bridge 
condition. 
 
MI stated that there’s no way to predict if/when a failure will 
happen. It is monitored regularly, it is moving and has a 
capacity seemingly lower than the vehicles using it, so we 
have all of the warning signs that we will get.  
 
MI advised that we need a ‘plan b’ in the meantime just in 
case the condition deteriorates further, and that this would 
potentially be a traffic restriction or diversion. 
 
DP advised that if the situation becomes dangerous then 
they would close the road. 
 
RM advised that with many of these types of situation, 
where we have reached out to the LPAs we get some 
responses, some that don’t respond and some that change 
their response.  However, where there is no response, no 
other data to the contrary, infilling is seen as the best long 
term solution. 
6. 
Next steps and actions 
 
RH to arrange for a further structural review/assessment to 
 
get a definitive capacity of the bridge and put some 
 
measures in place to implement the weight restriction. MI 
RH 
and RH to keep in contact regarding the timescales for this. 
 
 
 
The transport monitoring team to undertake a survey to 
 
monitor the type of traffic that is regularly using the bridge. 
JW 
JW to arrange a site assessment and look into the 
 
monitoring that can be arranged. 
         
 
 
LP to share with NH the plan for what is required at this 
 
location – ecological route, railway, active travel link etc. 
LP 
 
 
 
HR to link in with IF/JW/DP to coordinate communications 
HR 
and a community message.  
 
 
 
Due to MP interest in this case, a letter should be sent from 
HR 
National Highways. 
 
 
 
A follow up meeting to be arranged once some time frames 
RM 
have been confirmed.  
 
 
 
RC to investigate why there has been a lack of engagement 
RC