Wenhaston: Heritage railway bid quashed

PROPOSALS to build a heritage railway on a stretch of Suffolk countryside have been rejected by district planners.

A Suffolk Coastal development committee agreed with planning officers’ recommendation to turn down a bid by the Southwold Railway Trust to bring a half-mile steam line to Wenhaston.

A report drawn up ahead of this week’s decisive meeting advised councillors that the location for the development could not be favourably recommended due to its proposed location on a flood zone.

Committee members voted by majority to refuse planning permission for the project, which included a railway heritage visitor centre and would have been similar in model to the Mid Suffolk Light Railway.

The proposal sparked objection from a number of villagers who felt it unwise to site the development on a flood plain, and that it would encourage heavy visitor traffic. Wenhaston Parish Council also opposed the application on similar grounds.


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The trust, which had explored reopening the old line since 1994, said it would now take time to consider its options, and would discuss with donors what to do with the contributions so far made to fund the project.

Publicity officer, the Reverend Simon Pitcher, said: “At this stage it is obviously disappointing but we are encouraged by the fact that it wasn’t a unanimous rejection of what we are proposing. We haven’t decided what to do next and will take some time to reflect before doing anything hasty.

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“We will continue with our rolling stock projects anyway and there will hopefully be other opportunities in the future.”

The trust had intended to restore the railway while encouraging wildlife on the site and alongside the track.

But planning officers reported a “potentially adverse impact on the character of an area of outstanding natural beauty”.

It also calculated that traffic through the village would increase by less than 5% and that noise from slow-moving trains and occasional whistles would not be a nuisance.

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