THE owners of a rural holiday let have reacted with fury at plans to infill a former railway bridge at the bottom of their garden.

Highways England has announced plans to demolish or infill more than 100 structures on disused railways, where safety concerns have arisen.

One of those facing major changes is a bridge found at Staward Station near Allendale. The bridge carries traffic on the road from Catton to the A686, and can be found at the bottom of Allan and Alison Park's garden.

The couple operate The Waiting Room holiday cabin, created from an authentic Victorian station ticket office on the old platform of the Staward Station on the disused railway line that used to run between Haydon Bridge and Allendale.

Allan was furious when he found out there were plans to infill the bridge, which the pair had not been consulted on.

Furthermore, discussion had been taking place between Highways England and Northumberland County Council since September over an application to use a process known as permitted development to fill in the bridge - but Allan and Alison weren't made aware until earlier this month.

He said: "It's come as a bit of a surprise to us. We were shocked and angered. We don't see ourselves as the owner of the land, we see ourselves as caretakers.

"We try to manage things for future generations. People come to stay with us knowing it's got the historic railway location.

"We believe Highways England are using this process using permitted development to do things quickly and without and consultation."

A spokesman for Highways England said: "To maintain the safety of communities living near to Historic Railway Estate structures, and the drivers who use the roads that cross them, we are planning to infill 115 bridges, one of which is Staward Station.

“Local highway authorities have responsibility for applying weight or traffic restrictions or closing the road, but haven’t in this case despite the bridge’s capacity being limited by the condition of the arch to 18 tonnes. Infilling is now the safest and most appropriate option, and it will maintain access across the structure and permanently remove the requirement for the weight restriction.

“We contact all local authorities affected to advise them of our plans and to see if they have any use for the structures. In many cases we’ve worked with councils and local groups to find alternative access for pedestrians and cyclists or transfer ownership for future use.

“We’ve discussed this matter with Northumberland County Council and the local authority has no future plans for Staward Station.”