Wednesday, 25 November 2015

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‘Offices plans threat to Keswick-Penrith rail project’

The people behind a plan to reopen the Keswick to Penrith railway fear that their efforts could be jeopardised by a proposal to relocate the Lake District National Park Authority’s (LDNPA) northern offices.

The LDNPA wants to build new offices and alter the existing workshop and car park at Threlkeld Depot at Old Station Yard. It is part of a plan to move its area offices from Blencathra.

But CKP Railways plc, which has invested more than £400,000 of donations in design and development work on the railway reopening project, fears that the proposed changes would encroach on the site of the old line.

This could make it impossible to reinstate the station and difficult to reopen the existing line.

In a letter to the national park authority, the company said: “Threlkeld would be an important station for residents and visitors.

“Not being able to reinstate two tracks at Threlkeld could also significantly limit the capacity and operational potential of the re-opened railway.

“The station site at Threlkeld is constrained on all sides.

“A diversion, if feasible, would add many millions of pounds to the cost of re-opening the railway.”

The national park authority said it had spent six months working to produce a viable design.

But Cedric Martindale, director of CKP Railways plc, said the people behind the railway project knew nothing about it until they spotted it on a list of submitted planning applications.

The national park authority bought the site in 1984, along with most of the former railway line between, 12 years after the line was shut amid the Beaching cuts.

CKP Railways plc has sited LDNPA policies which state that the line is protected as a sustainable transport route.

It said that one stated: “We will work with partners to protect the redundant Keswick to Penrith railway line from development that would compromise its future use as a sustainable transport route.”

It’s letter added: “Allowing the works to go ahead would create the impression that the LDNPA had allowed the line to be ‘blocked’, in contradiction of its own policies.”

The group has suggested changes which would not jeopardise its project. The application will be decided by the park authority’s planning department.


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