Our railway development activities are accelerating rapidly – and producing results – it is time for an overall update and to let you know what is needed to complete our main objective of securing Planning Permission and purchase track bed to extend the line through to Blackmoor Gate and on to Wistlandpound.
Firstly I congratulate and thank all of you who have supported our efforts with the most generous donations in recent years. Your generosity has enabled the Trust to make significant land purchases of trackbed at Rowley Cross; from there to Parracombe Bank; at Blackmoor Gate; and, the land and trackbed at Woody Bay that was previously leased.
We now own Rowley Moor Farm with land and buildings that are a vital site for the future sheds and engineering works for the rebuilt railway. This site compliments the land we already own at Blackmoor Gate that will form future car parking there.
Along with land purchases we have worked to ensure that the Railway Project is recognised by both North Devon Council and Exmoor National Park Authority. Both these bodies now include the reinstatement of the Railway as policy in their local development plans.
All of this has been achieved in less than 7 years since the first presentations were held at Woody Bay. It is an even shorter period since intensive visits to landowners started 5 years ago.
Work on the Planning Application has been steadily proceeding for quite a time and we have now reached that critical point where we have to make a big push to complete the application and all the back up material to get us to Blackmoor Gate and Wistlandpound. That involves more costs – of course! But the results will be truly historic and possibly heroic. This is probably the first – and maybe only – realistic opportunity for the historic rebuilding of our railway.
Financial Support to Date
You may not be aware of all the sources of funds that support the project to reconstruct the railway. We launched the All Aboard appeal to support the planning activities and the Trackbed Appeals to fund trackbed purchases. In addition the CIC shares sales and the recent formation of the 100 Club are dedicated to this part of the project.
Since 2010 your contributions have amounted to:
All Aboard: £120,000 (Including Gift Aid of £20,000)
Trackbed Appeal: £66,000 (Including Gift Aid of £11,500)
CIC Share sales: £39,000
Impressive amounts indeed and in addition we have the 100 Club with currently more than 450 numbers signed up and generating useful monthly income.
How are the funds for the Extension being spent?
The All Aboard Fund
Donations received into this fund are initially paying for the ‘permissions’ needed to build the railway. Firstly, this is Planning Permission from Exmoor National Park Authority and North Devon Council and then a Transport and Works Order from Parliament.
Work on the Planning Application started in 2012 with initial work by ARUP leading to the public consultations. This work is continuing with project management by a locally based planning consultant. We are dealing with the technicalities ‘up-front’ so that when the application is submitted most of the questions raised will already have been dealt with. This means that significant work has been put into all this with the associated expenditure. The topics covered include Landscape, Ecology (including Bats, Reptiles, Dormice, Badgers and Otters), Hydrology, Sound and Vibration, Traffic, Trees, Topographic Surveys and legal advice. There is also considerable design work on bridges, tunnels and embankments including Parracombe Bank.
At the end of July this year the overall expenditure on the Planning Application had amounted to £180,000 funded mainly from ‘All Aboard’ (£164,000 including a grant from the Exmoor National Park Partnership Fund) and CIC share sales (£14,000).
The Trackbed Appeal
Donations received into this fund are reserved to pay for the purchase of Track-bed and associated land needed to rebuild the railway.
The land purchases of track bed, land at Woody Bay and Blackmoor Gate have totalled £285,000. This has been supported by the Trackbed Appeals and loans to the Trust – which have to be repaid of course!
What is needed?
The completion and submission of the Planning Application is estimated to amount to a further £59,000. This is split between remaining survey work, engineering design, project management and the Planning Application fees. A further public consultation with the final designs will be held in the autumn and the Application can then be submitted before the end of this year. We have an agreement with the planning authorities (both Exmoor National Park and North Devon Council) that the application will be decided within six months.
There are also some lengths of trackbed between Killington Lane and Blackmoor Gate --five in number - that we are negotiating to purchase. At our budget figures these are likely to cost £175,000.
How can you help?
Many of you have already signed up as regular contributors to All Aboard and have also contributed to the Trackbed Appeals. We also have various members’ loans.
The regular standing order payments are particularly vital as we can rely on these amounts each month and plan the expenditure.
These contributions can be large or small – they are all equally essential and appreciated.
You can see from the figures above that more is needed. That is why we are re-issuing this appeals for funds.
If you pay tax, your donations to these funds can be boosted by 25% through Gift Aid.
There is a further project that we will be able to announce soon. Not an appeal for funds as such but an investment opportunity – with a potential return – that will form another high-profile piece of the railway rebuilding.
Thank you again for all your generous support so far. I hope I have explained the significance of what we are about to achieve with the planning permission and further trackbed acquisitions.
No other heritage railway has faced the challenges that the L&B has in front of it - we are getting there and as can be seen the railway is coming back to life. You are a vital part of all this and with your help we can get the whole job done.
Lynton & Barnstaple Railway Trust