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Application for 'signal box' HQ

By Herald Express  |  Posted: September 08, 2012

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A RETROSPECTIVE planning application is to be filed for a controversial building in Kingswear so members of the public can have their say.

Dartmouth Steam Railway and Riverboat Company confirmed it will file a planning application eight months after it built and moved into its new £200,000 two-storey 'signal box' headquarters at Kingswear.

Some residents have been opposed to the structure from the start, claiming it was built illegally without planning consent.

The steam railway company originally said it did not need planning consent because as a statutory undertaker, it can build whatever it wants on its own land which is the track between Paignton and Kingswear.

Company director Andrew Pooley said: "We will put in a retrospective application in the next couple of weeks as requested by South Hams District Council.

"It is still with our lawyers at present.

"It is not something we have to do but we're doing it for the council and residents so long as it does not prejudice our right to move forward."

The Kingswear Action on Rail and Riverboat Development residents' action group has been campaigning for months against the building.

Through campaigning they forced the district council to request the rail company to carry out an environmental impact assessment which can be done through the normal planning process.

Members of KARRD have been further infuriated recently by the company's removal of some railway sleepers and other work on the line. They believe such work requires special planning permission as it is part of a listed building.

Mr Pooley added: "The sleepers were all rotten. The rails were removed and the buffer stop moved up the line 45 metres. No further construction is going to go ahead."

Richard Rawlins, KARRD group secretary, said: "We contend that listed building consent must be obtained for developments of this sort. No such application has been made."

A spokesman for South Hams District Council said: "An environmental impact assessment needs to be carried out.

"Residents will have an opportunity to express their views through the normal planning process.

"The issue will be debated fully by members of the committee."

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