Community leaders have given the go ahead for the reinstatement of a railway line in the Moorlands. The Staffordshire Moorlands District Council (SMDC) Planning Committee discussed and decided upon proposals for the: “reinstatement of single line railway track and replacement footpath on former railway line between Cornhill Leek and boundary of existing operational railway land at Leekbrook” at their meeting on Thursday (December 16).
Community leaders have given the go ahead for the reinstatement of a railway line in the Moorlands.
The Staffordshire Moorlands District Council (SMDC) Planning Committee discussed and decided upon proposals for the: “reinstatement of single line railway track and replacement footpath on former railway line between Cornhill Leek and boundary of existing operational railway land at Leekbrook” at their meeting on Thursday (December 16).
An SMDC planning officer had recommended “Delegate authority to the Head of Development Services in consultation with the Chairman of the Committee to approve subject to no substantive objections being raised by the end of the consultation period and a number of conditions.”
Within their report prepared for councillors attending the Planning Committee meeting at Moorlands House in Leek, the officer stated: “The former railway between North Rode and Uttoxeter and former Leek Station, which was located on the site now occupied by Morrisons was opened by North Staffordshire Railway in 1849.
“The branchline from Leekbrook junction, a short distance south of Leek, to Stoke on Trent was opened in 1864 and later a branch from Leekbrook junction to Cauldon Low was added in 1905.
“The Leek station and railway line to Stoke on Trent was in use until 1956 with passenger services to Uttoxeter until 1965. The line was finally closed following the closure of the freight services in the 1970’s and the station and track between North Rode and Leekbrook dismantled shortly thereafter in 1973.
“A short siding was retained along the former trackbed to Leek to allow for shunting operations, although this is since been lifted and only the bufferstop remains. This marks the boundary between the operational railway land within the control of the Churnet Valley Railway and the trackbed to the north which passed to the ownership of the council on dismantling.
“The site is currently a disused track bed approximately 1km (3⁄4 mile) from Cornhill / Barnfields Road, Leek to the Leek Brook railway junction adjacent to the sewage farm, Leek. The land has since been used by walkers and cyclists from the existing access point off Barnfields Road, Leek. The land is accessible on foot and cycles off Barnfields Road, Leek as well as crossing points along the length of the former track for pedestrian and vehicular purposes to service the sewage works. Severn Trent has sewage pipes laid beneath the track bed.
“This stretch of disused track bed has one tunnel known as Birchall Tunnel. The tunnel is owned by SMDC, known as Bridge 51. The track bed and surrounding land has been left allowing the land to become overgrown with vegetation, scrub and low quality trees since its closure.”
They added: “The proposal is to reinstate single track railway over the former track bed at Cornhill / Barnfields Road, Leek to the current operational CVR rail-head at Leek Brook. The reinstatement of the track at Leek to the current rail terminal at Leek Brook will connect to the CVR heritage railway. The reinstatement of the Leek to Leek Brook railway will be used as an extension to the Churnet Valley Heritage railway line.
“The purpose of the reinstatement is to reconnect Leek to Churnet Valley in accordance with the adopted Churnet Valley Masterplan, supplementary document 2014. This will provide for a rail connection to support Leek / Churnet Valley and the surrounding areas and to encourage and promote further important transport links for the continued regeneration, tourism, employment and growth of the Town of Leek and the surrounding areas.”
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