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!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

time to end trackbed trespass

Housing plan on old railway land is turned down over lane safety worries

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Thursday, May 17, 2012
Profile image for Shepton Mallet Journal
A controversial scheme to build 10 homes on former railway land at the end of Shepton Mallet’s narrow Hitchen Lane has been thrown out by Mendip’s Planning Board after fierce objections from the town council and residents.
Now a call has been made for a proper development brief to be drawn up for the whole area stretching between the Townsend Retail Park and the Ridgeway Estate along what was the former Wells to Shepton railway track.
More than 50 people packed into the meeting last week to hear the outcome of the scheme put forward by Mr G Taylor and Ms T Follett which attracted 43 letters of objections and a petition signed by 134 people.
Shepton Mallet Town Council had recommended refusal on the grounds of highway safety, inadequate sewerage arrangements and the possible obstruction to the Strawberry Line East Project – the proposed multi user path along the disused railway line running through the site.
Other concerns voiced at the meeting ranged from the area being a breeding ground for protected slowworms to flooding fears, loss of trees, loss of play space and allegations of contaminated land.
But the biggest concerns voiced were about the safety to pedestrians and queries about how the narrow Hitchen Lane, which has no pavement, could possibly cope with any increased two way traffic.
The resident’s arguments about the plans for five pairs of semi-detached houses were aired forcibly by their spokesman Graham Brown. Mr Brown lives in the narrow Hitchen Lane which leads to the site – and is also Shepton Town Council’s clerk as well as the town’s fire chief.
To huge applause from residents he urged the planning board to refuse the application on highways safety grounds and on the grounds that the scheme was unacceptable piecemeal development.
But despite the huge concerns about highway safety planning officer Laura McKay said that Somerset County Council highway’s department had raised no objections to the scheme at all.
And applicant Paul Kenny said passing places for vehicles would be created at strategic points along the lane.
Shepton’s town, district and county councillor John Parham said there was a desperate need for more housing in Shepton Mallet. But he said that whole area needed to be looked at as a whole not just one small part and a different access via Station Road would be far more sensible and safe.
Having the narrow carriageway of Hitchen Lane being shared by pedestrians and traffic was he warned: “An accident waiting to happen.”
He said: “Hitchen Lane is barely acceptable now for its users.”
And Councillor Nigel Taylor said they did not want to be part of any decision that “could result in a child’s death.”
Councillor Peter Bradshaw said when he walked up the lane he had to jump into the hedge to avoid a passing vehicle.
The plans were refused unanimously by the planning board on safety grounds because of the highway dangers. And councillors agreed that it was time that a proper planning brief should be drawn up for the preferred development they would like to see for that whole area rather than one small part of it.

It does seem amazing that in 2012 there are STILL some idiots out there who seriously propose new trackbed trespasses that can only end in tears when the Cheddar Valley line is inevitably put back in.
It really does make you wonder if they are just stupid or simply too cut off from reality to realise what they are doing. In this case safety issues were brought into play, but surely it's now time for the government to boldly and simply state - as they have for the S&D - NO more trackbed trespass.

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