WAREHAM Town Trust has praised district planning chiefs for voting against unpopular proposals for a ramped pedestrian railway station bridge.

Purbeck District Council (PDC) planning committee members voted against granting the scheme listed building consent at a packed meeting last week.

District councillors also declined to back the official planning proposal for the crossing, instead electing to write to Dorset County Council (DCC) highlighting concerns that not all options for the crossing had been considered to date.

Wareham Town Trust chairman Nick Fagan said: "The proposed ramped bridge would have seriously damaged the setting of our Victorian station.

"We are absolutely delighted that the councillors have decided to refuse listed building consent for the building of these unnecessary ramps.

"We hope that DCC will now think again and abandon the ramped bridge proposal and work with Network Rail and the local community to seek a way to maintain a ground level crossing."

County Hall and Network Rail want to close the existing surface pedestrian crossing, which is controlled by locking gates and manned by a security guard, despite overwhelming opposition from residents.

Rail officials, who say the surface crossing is dangerous, want to build ramps leading up to the station's existing listed pedestrian bridge.

Although PDC is only a consultee in the actual planning process, district authority members are responsible for deciding whether any listed building, or structure, can be redeveloped.

As the district planning board has now ruled against granting listed building consent, the county council - as applicant - will in all likelihood require Planning Inspectorate approval on the listed issue, in order for the proposals to proceed.

This is subject to DCC approving planning permission for the ramped bridge when it considers the scheme later this year.

In 2016 more than 2,200 people signed a petition calling for the retention of the surface crossing, arguing its removal would effectively cut the town in half.

Even one of Wareham's most famous residents, the iconic actor Edward Fox, has campaigned against the new ramped bridge.

Out of the 50 comments received by PDC's planning committee regarding the bridge application, 49 were opposed to the ramped scheme.

One idea is for the gates to be linked to the signal system, in much the same way as the pedestrian crossing in Poole town centre is.