Churnet Valley Railway / MCR

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Baxenden Bank

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Report in the local press today (The Sentinel, Stoke-on-Trent) that planning permission has been refused by Staffordshire Moorlands District council for a housing development at Leekbrook. The development being linked financially to re-opening the line between Leekbrook and Leek town (or close too).

http://www.stokesentinel.co.uk/Rail-scheme-hits-buffers-housing-plan-rejected/story-29118135-detail/story.html

In brief, 37 houses were proposed in the former railway triangle at Leekbrook, from which funding would have been forthcoming towards the costs of reinstating the line towards Leek, and also re-instating the third side of the triangle at Leekbrook. A small rail halt at Leekbrook was also shown on the plans.

Rail scheme hits the buffers as housing plan rejected

A SCHEME to bring trains back to a town has hit the buffers after a proposed housing development that would have helped fund the work was turned down.

The plans involved selling off land near Leekbrook Industrial Estate so it could be used to build 37 homes.

Around £300,000 of the proceeds would then have been re-invested in extending the Churnet Valley Railway from Leekbrook Junction to Barnfields in Leek.

But Staffordshire Moorlands District Council's planning applications committee unanimously rejected the housing bid at a meeting this week.
Now the Moorland and City Railways (MCR), which was behind the wider scheme, will have to rethink its options.

MCR director David Kemp said the £300,000 from the land sale would have covered about half the cost for reinstating the old rail track that previously ran to Leek. Passenger trains last called at the market town in 1960.

Mr Kemp told the committee: "The extension would bring in the equivalent of 13 full-time jobs and the spending of around £950,000 a year in Leek."
Janette Findley, agent for the application, also highlighted the potential economic benefits of the project.

She said: "Leekbrook is a sustainable site with employment and transport. The contribution will also help the re-instatement of the railway line. The railway can make enormous contribution to jobs and tourism."

But the committee heard that a series of objections had been lodged to the proposed housing development, which would have included a mixture of three, four and five-bedroom homes, along with three blocks of two-bedroom town houses.

Concerns were raised by countryside and environmental health officials and also by Staffordshire Wildlife Trust.

Staffordshire County Council had also stated that a financial contribution of £121,494 would be required towards school places.

Network Rail said that proposed works on the site could not go ahead until the applicant had agreed with certain terms and conditions.

A report to the committee said: "The applicant will also need to enter into an agreement with Network Rail regarding the arch that is the access and exit point into the site.

"The arch is also subject to a 150-year lease and the applicant will need to discuss and agree with Network Rail which methods of protection will need to be put in place to protect the arch from construction works and any vehicular or pedestrian access or exit."

Planning officer Rachael Simpkin said: "This plan is for 37 units and an offer is on the table for £300,000.

"The housing site does not need the railway line for permission, it could be left with housing and no railway line.

"There is also no costing for contamination, clean up and for a car park. There has been significant objections from people. There is also no affordable housing or school funding."

David Kemp, mentioned in the article, is owner of Moorland and City Railways (MCR) and also a director of the Churnet Valley Railway. MCR own / lease the sections of former Network Rail lines from Stoke-on-Trent via Endon to Leekbrook, then from Leekbrook via Ipstones to Cauldon Quarry.

Stoke-on-Trent to Endon has decades of growth obstructing the line. Endon to Leekbrook was cleared of vegetation a few years ago but was not used for passenger services. Leekbrook to Ipstones is in occasional use by the Churnet Valley Railway. The final section, Ipstones to Cauldon, was re-instated for a short while but the track has now been lifted and sold for scrap. Churnet Valley Railway operate from Leekbrook to Froghall on a regular basis.
 
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STEVIEBOY1

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Seem a shame if the extentions don't go ahead. I have been on a couple of specials that went through to Cauldron, then just as far as Ipstones, why did they do away with the Cauldron section?
 

alexl92

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Weird. I've just been reading about the CVR and their plans on Wikipedia today!
Shame they've been denied but if £120,000 of the fee had to go towards funding school places it wouldn't ahve gained them as much as they thought surely?
 

Calthrop

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I visited this venue on a Churnet Valley plus Moorland & City steam-plus-diesel "gala weekend" late in 2010, travelling both to Froghall and Cauldon. Read at the time, MCR's published plans for reviving this whole small system for "real" passenger + recreational passenger + freight, and linking it for these purposes, back to the operational national system in the Stoke area. Thought all this at the time, quixotic to the point of insanity -- but highly praiseworthy.

Had wondered how this outfit was doing nowadays: am saddened but not surprised to find that the answer is, "not well".
 

theblackwatch

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The Cauldon Low branch was lifted beyond Ipstones in 2013 "to allow the track to be replaced". I travelled over the Oakmoor branch on the Steam Railmotor in 2014, but I believe that has been lifted since too.
 

Baxenden Bank

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Seem a shame if the extentions don't go ahead. I have been on a couple of specials that went through to Cauldron, then just as far as Ipstones, why did they do away with the Cauldron section?

The owner (MCR) sold the track for scrap. They also intended to sell the Leekbrook to Ipstones section. In order to keep the track in place (and thus the chance to run trains up the steep bank i.e. good enthusiast stuff), CVR lifted their (non public use) section of track between Froghall and Oakamoor, sold it for scrap and used the money raised to pay for the Leekbrook to Ipstones section to remain in place!

What a tangled web we weave!
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Weird. I've just been reading about the CVR and their plans on Wikipedia today!
Shame they've been denied but if £120,000 of the fee had to go towards funding school places it wouldn't ahve gained them as much as they thought surely?

MCR, not CVR. The first is a private company owned by a property developer. The second is a heritage operation linked to the former through a common director. The £120,000 'developer contribution' or 'section 106 agreement' (or perhaps now CIL - Community Infrastructure Levy) is standard stuff for any development and ought to have been built into the calculations for the housing development. Access to the site down a narrow lane, through a single track height restricted bridge with no footway throughout, ought to have given a clue as to the unsuitability of the site for housing. But, if you're a developer, that's how you make your money, by taking a punt on things more cautious people dismiss as unrealistic!
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
I visited this venue on a Churnet Valley plus Moorland & City steam-plus-diesel "gala weekend" late in 2010, travelling both to Froghall and Cauldon. Read at the time, MCR's published plans for reviving this whole small system for "real" passenger + recreational passenger + freight, and linking it for these purposes, back to the operational national system in the Stoke area. Thought all this at the time, quixotic to the point of insanity -- but highly praiseworthy.

Had wondered how this outfit was doing nowadays: am saddened but not surprised to find that the answer is, "not well".

The 'mini network' proposals by MCR would be realistic if you were to get limestone / cement traffic from the quarries at Cauldon Low back onto rail. That would generate the commercial return necessary to fund the costs of re-instatement. Regular passenger services Stoke to Leek, mmmm, interesting suggestion. Regular or occasional passenger traffic for Alton Towers, mmmm interesting. Heritage operation across a mini-network would be novel. I understand the Great Central Railway now have a branch line.
 
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