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Brick bases and planning laws

Signalling on heritage railways

Brick bases and planning laws

Unread postby kestreleyes » Thu Sep 24, 2015 8:39 am

It's probably been covered before on other topics,does anyone have any useful thoughts on what the restrictions are when building a brick base for a rebuilt heritage structure,obviously it's worth talking to the local planning officer in case there's any issues, with it being permanent structure as opposed to wooden bases,or issues of overlooking people's houses,environmental restrictions,modern building standards for cavity walls,damp fire protection etc

We are planning to build a new base for one of our heritage cabins and anyone's past experiences are always useful,including anyone else's experiences.
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Re: Brick bases and planning laws

Unread postby John Hinson » Thu Sep 24, 2015 9:06 am

It isn't something I've heard of as an issue. I would have thought a wooden structure would be regarded as being as permanent as a brick one. But . . . as far as I know the regulations haven't changed for operational railway buildings which do not need an planning permission. That being said, I think it would be unwise to just do that without discussing with the authority.

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Re: Brick bases and planning laws

Unread postby Chris Osment » Thu Sep 24, 2015 10:25 am

John Hinson wrote:. . . as far as I know the regulations haven't changed for operational railway buildings which do not need an planning permission.......


I think the key words there are 'operational railway'. I do know of a heritage railway site which wanted to re-erect an old box top on a new base for 'museum display' purposes only and were told that planning permission would be needed in such cases.

But as John said, best to check anyway - and if they say that planning permission is not required, then make sure you get that in writing to back up any verbal enquiry (been there, had problems!).
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Re: Brick bases and planning laws

Unread postby Mike Hodgson » Thu Sep 24, 2015 11:10 am

I agree with John that it would be prudent to clear it with the planners, but you need to think about their pals Building Control. Be careful not to rattle their cage too much over "modern building requirements". I seem to recall a story about the Severn Valley being told that it wasn't good enough to have a wooden staircase as the only "fire escape" from a building. Double glazing is of course a must for thermal efficiency these days, and under the disability discrimination rules, you'll need to be able to access it in a wheelchair (I was told a couple of months ago that will soon apply to static caravans in a caravan park).

I suggest that any approach to the authorities stress that (1) it isn't residential, (2) it's heritage and (3) it's an industrial building and as John says they should use the rules applicable to operational railways. Even then you could run into issues associated with Health & Safety at Work rules - eg the ability to "employ" a disabled signalman. I suspect it could be more difficult if you were building something more like St Albans South or Romsey or if it were for private use (in which case I suggest it should be called a "garden shed" and sticking to wood).
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Re: Brick bases and planning laws

Unread postby push-pull » Thu Sep 24, 2015 11:54 am

I think this might be relevant. On the Swanage Railway there was an issue with the Down station building a Harmans Cross. After all permissions were granted... and got to concrete foundations, Building Control then said there needed to be "wind assessment", the result being the wooden building needed substantial ground anchoring added. The story goes this was only discovered on a site visit, the cutting and road bridge at the highest point on the line makes an excellent wind tunnel!
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Re: Brick bases and planning laws

Unread postby kestreleyes » Thu Sep 24, 2015 12:07 pm

Some useful ideas there, the cabin will not be permanently manned,more a shunt frame for access to the loco shed at start and end of the days operation,worked by loco crews as a large ground frame,so it's unlikely that wheelchairs would require access as we don't have any wheelchair drivers on trains, that said there is provision to allow public to come look at the internal workings of the frame and cabin,so the frame will be behind a handrail for viewing and some thought has been given to public access,fire regs ,safety etc, later on it may take more control,but it isn't planned to be permanently manned at all, so as you point out its a heritage building of operational purposes for operating trains etc, the reason we'd like a brick base is that there used to be one similar in the nearby area so would be a nice change from the all wood ones we've previously built.

Looking back to the past we also had issues many years ago with one rebuild of a cabin we had,the council mentioned we should have had planning permission before redirecting it at one of our main stations, they were duly pointed to go talk with major Poyntz who had already been consulted on this and informed us so to carry on, the outshot in the end was they backtracked and gave us an award for its re-erection :P

Thinking about environmental factors probably our main one is actually the proximity of a nearby major river with flood potential every ten or so years , so I think foundations may be more important as with do we utilise a block work inner and brick outer or have a all brick structure, I've been reading up the local building regs, there are some that actually don't cover certain aspects for instance building regs quite happily cover lintels above doors and windows but don't say anything about traditional brick arches, so what covers them in box designs?,

Thanks for all the useful bits so far folks,all appreciated
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Re: Brick bases and planning laws

Unread postby Mike Hodgson » Thu Sep 24, 2015 1:45 pm

kestreleyes wrote:Some useful ideas there, the cabin will not be permanently manned,more a shunt frame for access to the loco shed at start and end of the days operation,worked by loco crews as a large ground frame,so it's unlikely that wheelchairs would require access as we don't have any wheelchair drivers on trains, that said there is provision to allow public to come look at the internal workings of the frame and cabin,so the frame will be behind a handrail for viewing and some thought has been given to public access,fire regs ,safety etc, later on it may take more control,but it isn't planned to be permanently manned at all, so as you point out its a heritage building of operational purposes for operating trains etc, the reason we'd like a brick base is that there used to be one similar in the nearby area so would be a nice change from the all wood ones we've previously built.


The trouble with the disability rules is they try to apply them even though nobody's disabled - because in future you might have one - I may have been misinformed but think new houses now have to have a ramp to either the front or back door.
As it only manned by loco crews as required, it's not a signal box - tell them it's just a shed to keep some levers from going rusty. The previous brick base will help you win any heritage argument. If it becomes something more in time, they will long since have lost interest. If the brick base is low enough, it's just a foundation!
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Re: Brick bases and planning laws

Unread postby Chris Osment » Thu Sep 24, 2015 7:14 pm

I believe that the GWSR also experienced 'issues' with the new boxes built at Gotherington and Cheltenham Racecourse. IIRC one of the boxes had to have a sort of 'child gate' fitted at the top of the internal stairs to stop the signalman accidentally falling down the stairs while on duty! But there may be someone here with more accurate info on that....:-)
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Re: Brick bases and planning laws

Unread postby Pete2320 » Fri Sep 25, 2015 12:26 pm

Consideration for a signalbox is that the structure has to be strong enough to withstand the mechanical forces of the signalling equipment. As such, when we built Stoneacre it has solid 9" brick walls on a 13.5" plinth above ground level with 18" blockwork below ground on a concrete slab and no DPC. This did involve some negotiation with the building regs people but reason prevailed. Of course, the locking room is not inhabited and as your box will (I think) have a wooden superstructure, the operating floor will be better insulated.

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