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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
HR clarified that Lewes needs to decide what their plan is
for this location, and a timeframe, so as to inform the
HR advised that installing a cycle route or railway would be
detrimental to the ecological corridor, and that these were
[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
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
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
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
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 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.
HR to link in with IF/JW/DP to coordinate communications
and a community message.
Due to MP interest in this case, a letter should be sent from
A follow up meeting to be arranged once some time frames
have been confirmed.
RC to investigate why there has been a lack of engagement