‘Middy’ set for a longer rail line despite villagers’ protest

The Mid Suffolk Light Railway at Wetheringsett.

The Mid Suffolk Light Railway at Wetheringsett.

Proposals to extend one of Suffolk’s best-loved tourist attractions are set to get the go-ahead, despite opposition from community leaders.

Mid Suffolk Light Railway, known affectionately as The Middy, wants to extend its existing track eastwards with a single line by some 360m using the former trackbed and to construct Wilby Halt, a small platform where trains will terminate

However, Wetheringsett-cum-Brockford Parish Council is urging Mid Suffolk planners to refuse the application, having withdrawn its backing for the proposals after extra information came forward.

The parish council said it was concerned over the impact of the project on the nearest property, Potash Cottage, through noise, smoke and smut; interference with a public footpath.

It also believed Wilby Halt was too extensive and there was no need for it as it does not replace an existing structure.

A report to the district council’s planning committee – which is recommended to approve the railway project on Wednesday – said experts consulted did not believe the line extension would have an adverse impact on Potash Cottage.

Ian Ward, senior planning officer, said: “With regard to the public footpath which crosses the proposed extended line, it is understood that under the provisions of light railway legislation the operators are required to have the crossing manned at all times while trains are running .

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“The Middy is a valued regional tourist facility which is identified as an opportunity for enhancement in the Babergh and Mid Suffolk Visitor Destination Plan Action Plan.

“This modest extension of the line will enable that enhanced offer.

“The proposed extension has been carefully considered with regard to the effect on neighbouring amenity and, from the original submission, the eastern end of the line has been moved away from Potash Cottage, the nearest residential property.”

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