The wheels are in motion for a disused railway line in a Moorlands town to possibly be turned into a ‘Green Travel Corridor.’ Staffordshire Moorlands District Council (SMDC) Cabinet, at their afternoon meeting on Tuesday, June 29, agreed proposals for the authority to begin the process of an Asset Transfer of the Cheadle to Cresswell Disused Railway line from the Department for Transport to the ownership of Staffordshire Moorland District Council.
The wheels are in motion for a disused railway line in a Moorlands town to possibly be turned into a ‘Green Travel Corridor.’
Staffordshire Moorlands District Council (SMDC) Cabinet, at their afternoon meeting on Tuesday, June 29, agreed proposals for the authority to begin the process of an Asset Transfer of the Cheadle to Cresswell Disused Railway line from the Department for Transport to the ownership of Staffordshire Moorland District Council.
Town and district Cheadle councillor Gary Bentley had put forward the idea for the railway line to be made into a public footpath to be used by cyclists, walkers and more, to SMDC some ten years ago. Cllr Bentley has since encouraged many members of the Cheadle community to get involved and also helped set up a Friends of Cheadle to Cresswell Railway Path group.
Within the ‘Executive Summary’ of the report made to Cabinet members yesterday about the proposals, the report author explained: “The last train to use the Cheadle line was a maintenance train in 1986. The junction with the main Stoke to Derby line was severed in 1989, which finally isolated the Cheadle branch from the national rail network.
“Today much of the line is used by pedestrians as an informal footpath. During the Covid-19 lockdowns in 2020/21 the popularity of the route soared considerably as walking became a popular local pursuit.
“There is an active local community group ‘The Friends of Cheadle to Cresswell Railway Path’ which provides information on how to access the path and organises path clearing days and other community activities to promote the use of the path.”
They went on to further state: “The council’s Local Plan has a number of key objectives and policies which directly support the development of sustainable transport initiatives and identifies the Green Infrastructure Strategy as the vehicle for identifying specific initiatives to improve access to the countryside. The strategy identifies the disused railway from Cheadle to Cresswell as a potential Green Travel Corridor that should be investigated further.
“The current freeholder of the railway line is the Department for Transport who in turn have a leaseholder agreement with Moorland and City Railways Limited. The lease has seven years left to run. The DFT have confirmed they would provide the council the opportunity to buy the railway (full or in part) before taking a decision to sell to another party (including the existing leaseholder).
“DFT are now engaging with the council about the potential transfer of the asset before taking action in respect of any proposals by the existing leaseholder.”
With regards to what the project is set to cost SMDC, the report author set out: “If the recommendations of this report are approved, it will commit the council to incurring costs associated with the due diligence process, including structural and conditions surveys and the commissioning of a red book valuation.
“Estimated unbudgeted costs of which are £25,000. However, a Community Renewal Fund Bid has been submitted to Staffordshire County Council to part cover the costs. If the net costs to the Council can not be met from existing revenue budget within Regeneration, this will need to be funded via a draw on reserves.
“The further Cabinet Report on the findings of the Transfer of Assets process will need to establish the capital cost of the asset transfer, the costs of immediate and future maintenance and repair of railway structure and the revenue costs of maintaining the line.
“Moreover, the future development of the railway line into a Green travel Corridor will require a business case to support any additional capital funding and applications for grant funding.”
The report author recommended: “That the council engages with the Department for Transport to assess the potential transfer of the Cheadle to Cresswell disused railway line to the ownership of Staffordshire Moorland District Council, to undertake all necessary legal, financial and technical assessments to understand the full costs, legal liabilities and ongoing maintenance liabilities associated with any potential Council ownership of the disused railway.”
And that: “That a further Cabinet report is prepared on the results of the due diligence process and recommendations on whether to proceed with the Asset Transfer.”
SMDC Cabinet unanimously agreed to go ahead with the above two recommendations at their meeting at Moorlands House on Tuesday, June 29.
Photo from the Friends of Cheadle to Cresswell Railway Path Facebook page.
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