The Masterplan recommendations about the future of the Chuley Road site in Ashburton have now been published on the Dartmoor National Park Authority (DNPA) website ahead of the DNPA meeting to determine the future of the area this coming Friday, 5th June.
Whilst strong local lobbying by the ‘Friends of Ashburton Station’ has highlighted the town’s unique railway heritage and also gained considerable local support from businesses and townspeople to safeguard the route and station for the future, their campaigning would appear to have fallen on deaf ears with the DNPA planners, resulting in just minor changes within the Masterplan.
Commenting on the report, South Devon Railway Trust Chairman Alan Taylor said:
“The South Devon Railway Trust has supported the ambitions of the Friends of Ashburton Station in seeking to protect the old station buildings and route of the former railway from development so that our steam trains might once again return to the Dartmoor town at some point in the future.”
“So, we read the conclusions of the Dartmoor National Park Authority (DNPA) report with both sadness and disappointment — a veritable railway heritage gem of the Great Western Railway in Ashburton station has not been safeguarded from development, and the unique opportunity to protect the railway’s route into the town for the future and the considerable benefit of the town which it would bring has seemingly been spurned.”
“Despite letters of support from DNPA following a previous engineering feasibility study about our trains perhaps returning to Ashburton, we were not consulted during the recent consultation into the Chuley Road Masterplan and were only made aware of the details at a very late stage in the process.”
“As a result, our opportunity to provide fully detailed proposals for returning the railway to Ashburton was severely limited. Whilst additional information was provided to the DNPA planners during the last few months, we were still not consulted during the creation of the “Ashburton Railway – Appraisal of Options Report (April 2015)” which contains many inaccuracies.
“We still believe that failing to safeguard a route for a future railway reconnection is a lost opportunity that Ashburton will regret. We also hope that this decision by DNPA doesn’t result in the town sleepwalking into oblivion by adopting a plan that draws people away from the town centre rather than bringing them to it.”
“So, I make a final appeal to the members of the Dartmoor National Park Authority to think again ahead of this decision and to come and visit the South Devon Railway this week to see how we operate and what Ashburton might be missing out on – they will be made very welcome!”
An appraisal of the railway proposals, including the town’s former railway station, can be seen at Item A5:- http://www.dartmoor.gov.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/575863/For-Web-FDraft-Appendicies.compressed.pdf.
For a general overview of the Chuley Road scheme and links to other relevant publications, see: – http://www.dartmoor.gov.uk/planning/pl-forwardplanning/masterplans-and-development-briefs/ashburton-masterplan