Welcome to the 'New Somerset and Dorset Railway'

The original Somerset and Dorset Railway closed very controversially in 1966. It is time that decision, made in a very different world, was reversed. We now have many councillors, MPs, businesses and individuals living along the line supporting us. Even the Ministry of Transport supports our general aim. The New S&D was formed in 2009 with the aim of rebuilding as much of the route as possible, at the very least the main line from Bath (Britain's only World Heritage City) to Bournemouth (our premier seaside resort); as well as the branches to Wells, Glastonbury and Wimborne. We will achieve this through a mix of lobbying, trackbed purchase and restoration of sections of the route as they become economically viable. With Climate Change, road congestion, capacity constraints on the railways and now Peak Oil firmly on the agenda we are pushing against an open door. We already own Midford just south of Bath, and are restoring Spetisbury under license from DCC, but this is just the start. There are other established groups restoring stations and line at Midsomer Norton and Shillingstone, and the fabulous narrow gauge line near Templevcombe, the Gartell Railway.

There are now FIVE sites being actively restored on the S&D and this blog will follow what goes on at all of them!
Midford - Midsomer Norton - Gartell - Shillingstone - Spetisbury

Our Aim:

Our aim is to use a mix of lobbying, strategic track-bed purchase, fundraising and encouragement and support of groups already preserving sections of the route, as well as working with local and national government, local people, countryside groups and railway enthusiasts (of all types!) To restore sections of the route as they become viable.
Whilst the New S&D will primarily be a modern passenger and freight railway offering state of the art trains and services, we will also restore the infrastructure to the highest standards and encourage steam working and steam specials over all sections of the route, as well as work very closely with existing heritage lines established on the route.

This blog contains my personal views. Anything said here does not necessarily represent the aims or views of any of the groups currently restoring, preserving or operating trains over the Somerset and Dorset Railway!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

the big picture

(This has arisen from a message board post suggesting we apply for planning permission for the whole route)

That is an interesting thought and an option which I had been thinking about a while back. There is no requirement to be the owner of the land upon which a planning application can be made, however....... failing an all inclusive act of parliament, practically speaking and unless there is a more straightforward alternative, before Richard Gurney proceeds, we should probably note that it will require:-

- that the names of every landowner of the former track bed route are discovered in order to serve notice upon them, probably by way of the Land registry, with a cost of £20-£35 per land ownership (we could be talking of 20-50 odd owners of the former track bed along the route?)
- that there would be a need for an individual planning application for each piece of former track bed land under different ownership at a potential cost of between £170 - £335 per application
- the cost of ordnance survey plans of the relevant sections of the route at £26.50 per map
- partial overlap here - a need for environmental and planning impact assessments for each application
- sustainability assessments - probably similar for each application
- design and access statements - reused for each application
- structural details of new and existing bridges, embankments, cuttings, tunnels etc,
- arboricultural assessments of trees to be removed
- acoustic calculations of the effects of any future passing trains
- probably similar for each application - conservation area issues and so on.
- applications for land ownership areas to Bath and North East Somerset , South Somerset. North Dorset and East Dorset District Councils (I hope that is all) and a recognition that generally planning permissions are valid only for 3 years before the expiry of which time a renewal application should be lodged with the associated costs. Hopefully there would be supporters of the S&D who are professionally qualified to undertake some of the assessments, thus avoiding some additional costs..............

Well, this is what the New S&D is all about! Is there anyone out there with the time and skills to work out this total cost, whether there are exemptions, particularly with the 3 year limit on planning permissions and whether there is a form of association where some of these costs could be reduced or even avoided?

Also of course whether there are any of you out there, existing or future members, who could provide some of these services at a reduced cost or at no cost?

Of course once the New S&D start buying up packets of land this whole process will be simplified!
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Anonymous said...

i really think this is a step to far to be honest, if you try and get planning permission to do things on land you have no ownership or lease over you'll simply get laughed at, and cause potential agression and awkwardness from land owners in the future. and you'd need to get all the land owners to sign forms to give you permission to do this work, as from what i have seen of the development of the future british grand prix circuit at donington park, they had conditional planning permission to build the circuit, but the circuits owner has not yet signed of the form giving them permission to do so, and now the leaseholders for the circuit have a week to get them to sign it

GMasterH said...

I agree. Get a basic service from Chilcompton to Radstock before biteing off too much of the big pie. We'll eat it all in the end...

Freddie said...

I think there are some things that could be done elsewhere.

First, looking at the list of Councils, you need to add in Mendip District and Poole Borough councils.

Now coucils should let you know about their land holdings for nothing, which would be a good start.

Second, there's plenty of basic stuff that can be done without planning permission: cleaning drains, clearing scrub, repointing masonry. All you need is permission from the land owner. Not only would this help preserve the assets for eventual reopening but it will give the line the appearance that something is actually happening, which will encourage communities along the way.