L&B gets approval for extension
Unanimous approval for L&B planning applications will allow creation of a 5½-mile railway.
The Lynton & Barnstaple will become a somewhere-tosomewhere railway for the first time since it closed in 1935, after it was granted planning permission to extend to Blackmoor. The long-awaited go-ahead was given at an Exmoor National Park Authority planning meeting on March 6, where four of the L&B’s five planning applications were given unanimous approval. These include reinstating the railway between the current terminus at Killington Lane and Blackmoor, the construction of a new engineering centre, rolling stock shed and sidings, and expanded car park at Blackmoor, and demolishing the 1987-built bungalow on the trackbed at Parracombe Halt. However, ENPA rejected the planning application to replace the bungalow with two semi-detached houses; one as affordable housing, and the other for railway use. The permission comes nearly two years after North Devon Council approved the railway’s plans to extend the line from Blackmoor to Wistlandpound in June 2016 (see SR456), and convert the station building into a combined station/restaurant. The proposed 5½-mile railway, which already welcomes nearly 50,000 passengers annually, is forecast to create 24 full-time jobs and is expected to generate an additional £62 million for the local economy during the first ten years of construction and operation. L&B Press Officer Tony Nicholson says: “The engineering design work for the next phase is already well under way, including the design of those bridges that have been demolished and the reconstruction of Parracombe Bank with a culvert larger than a doubledecker bus to allow the River Heddon to flow unobstructed under the embankment. This will ensure that the bank can not be breached again as it was at the time of the Lynmouth flood in 1952. “When this section of the railway has been restored, the trust intends to rebuild the line right through to Lynton and back to Barnstaple, all of which is supported in the two planning authorities’ Local Plans for the area. “The reconstruction phase that the ENPA has approved includes a shuttle bus service from Woody Bay to Lynton until the railway returns there. Visitors will be able to park their cars at Blackmoor Gate on the edge of Exmoor National Park and ride through the park itself without disturbing the very beauty and tranquillity they have come to enjoy.” Some objectors remain implacably opposed to the railway’s reinstatement. Parracombe resident Louise Grob reportedly telling the authority members: “It’s environmental vandalism. We will fight this at every stage and we will win. Meanwhile, we will drag the Exmoor National Park and its members through the mud.”