The section 73 planning applications which sought variation of the Grampian Conditions to allow staged extension of the railway have been withdrawn by the Trust following professional advice. This was necessary due to procedural delays and legal challenge. The 2018 planning approvals expired on 7th March 2023.
This outcome is very disappointing for everyone causing an unwelcome delay to the project. All funds raised so far in the ‘Return to Parracombe Fund’ have been ring-fenced for future extension of the railway.
However, the planning consent granted by North Devon Council for the section of Phase IIa between Blackmoor Gate and Wistlandpound is secure and unaffected. Work commenced there in 2019 with the reconstruction of Bridges 54 and 55. Now that contracts have been exchanged for the purchase of Old Station House Inn by L&B Blackmoor Company plc and the section of track bed bypassing the Inn has been secured by the Trust, preparations can be made to resume work on this section.
The Trustees are consulting with the Trust membership on a modified strategy to further extend the railway taking account of issues raised during the s73 consultation process.