A HISTORIC railway bridge was saved from demolition after councillors voted against controversial plans to destroy the structure.

But it may only be a temporary reprieve as Network Rail has confirmed it is ‘looking to submit an appeal’.

Vale of White Horse District Council’s planning committee refused the company’s application to knock down the grade-II listed bridge at a meeting on Wednesday night as it was unconvinced the wider national benefit had been demonstrated.

Oxford Mail:

Network Rail insist the project, which would cause a 10-month road closure and cut off a major route into the village, is the only way to electrify the line. Councillors rejected the plan against the advice of their planning officers, who had said demolition should be approved and ‘regrettably accepted’ the evidence from the rail company.

Nevertheless, the decision marks a huge victory for campaigners who have spent four years rallying against the plans.

Oxford Mail:

They claim destroying the bridge would have a negative impact on businesses in the village and presented their case at the meeting.

Steventon Parish Council chairman Chris Wilding said: “We’re exceedingly delighted by the decision. It came out that they clearly had taken no consideration into local sustainability and economics.

“In no time since 2013 have they discussed what the effect would be on businesses in Steventon so we welcome this decision.”

The bridge’s future was originally due to be decided at a planning committee meeting in May, but councillors wanted further information on alternatives and opted to defer.

Representatives from Network Rail made their case at the meeting in Wantage, while Matthew Barber, district councillor for Steventon and the Hanneys, spoke out against the plans.

Mr Barber hailed the committee’s decision after the meeting, tweeting ‘common sense prevails’.

Network Rail first proposed the plans four years ago and Steventon resident Robert Green, who campaigned against the bridge’s demolition, believed the decision was a logical outcome.

He said: “It’s been a long road - four years working with Historic England and as the years went past it was clear the technology was all moving in our favour.”

A Network Rail spokesperson said the company was ‘disappointed’ in the decision, currently ‘considering its options’ and looking to submit an appeal.