By Phil Marsh

Lynton & Barnstaple Railway to return pub to its former use - a railway station

Published: 5th October 2015

Dartmoor National Park Authority (DNPA) acknowledge flaws in Planning process – renewed hope for Ash

Lynton & Barnstaple Railway plans purchase of Blackmoor station

Lynton & Barnstaple Railway Trust has formed a new company, L&B Blackmoor Company Plc, specifically to purchase and run The Old Station House Inn, a pub and restaurant business located in the former L&B station at Blackmoor Gate. Shares will be offered to the public (see www.lynton-rail.co.uk for details of the forthcoming issue) with the trust holding a controlling share to enable future railway use of the site.

The station, known simply as Blackmoor, was built in 1897 for opening of the L&B and sold in October 1938 after the railway closed. Post-WW2 a café opened in the building. Part of the Up platform was enclosed by a conservatory in the 1950s and the building was subsequently extended across the trackbed.

The old station site lies on L&BR’s planned extension to Wistlandpound and acquisition of the property is clearly important in that it will provide another section of the required trackbed. However, the proposed purchase of the site envisages the new company continuing to run the existing pub and restaurant business in the old building. The railway extension will be constructed at a lower level to the north of the original station. Aside from not disrupting the existing business, rebuilding the railway lower down the slope is advantageous since a revived line will need to pass under the adjacent A39/A399 crossroads.

If the station building purchase goes through, a new station will be built at the lower level, in effect behind the pub garden. This will replace earlier proposals to construct a new station north of the crossroads next to the projected locomotive and carriage sheds which L&BR aims to locate at Blackmoor Gate.

The planning applications covering L&B extension ambitions from its present Killington Lane temporary terminus are now ready for submission to North Devon Council and Exmoor National Park (Blackmoor Gate being on the western boundary of the National Park). The two authorities are committed to ruling on the applications within six months of accepting them – although in planning terms ‘Accepting’ is not the same as receipt. The applications have to be ‘validated’ before being ‘accepted’ - and the documentation runs to 3,000 pages!

Following closure of the Lynton & Barnstaple Railway in September 1935 the trackbed was sold off to numerous landowners. The revival project, which presently operates between Woody Bay station and Killington Lane, and associated organisations have over many years been progressively securing parcels of old L&B trackbed.

Last year, L&B Trust purchased Rowley Moor Farm close to Blackmoor Gate, the cost being recovered by the sale of holiday timeshares in the house. The land and farm outbuildings on the north side of the A39 (just east of the A399) are adjacent to a site which was already owned by the trust and earmarked as the location for new locomotive and carriage sheds, workshops and – until the latest Old Station House Inn opportunity – a new station.

Closer to Killington Lane, a four-bedroom house on the edge of Parracombe known as Fair View has recently come on the market for sale. Built in 1911 (after the railway was constructed) the property now includes a 260 yard section of the old trackbed on the route from Killington Lane towards Blackmoor Gate. L&B Trust hopes the property will be bought by someone prepared to sell them the section of trackbed.

Renewed hope for saving Ashburton ambitions?

Friends of Ashburton Station (FoAS) and the South Devon Railway Trust’s campaign to save Ashburton station ( www.rail.co.uk/rail-news/2015/fight-is-on-to-save-ashburton-station /) has achieved some initial progress with Dartmoor National Park Authority now acknowledging there were problems with the Chuley Road Masterplan as it stood.

The controversial Masterplan proposals prepared by the local authority for Chuley Road in Ashburton envisaging a supermarket and houses built around the old railway station and on the former trackbed, were endorsed by Dartmoor National Park Authority on July 3. Implementation of the plan would preclude any future possibility of reinstating the branch from South Devon Railway’s present Buckfastleigh terminus back into the town of Ashburton.

However, following legal investigations commissioned by the South Devon Railway Trust, on September 8 it was announced Dartmoor National Park Authority (DNPA) had acknowledged fundamental flaws in the Masterplan relating to the type of planning document adopted by the planners and consequent inadequacy of consultation processes pursued by them in constructing the Masterplan. DNPA planners had therefore been obliged to recommend the withdrawal of the final document approved by its Members and the return of the Masterplan to consultation.

“The Masterplan is now being downgraded to a draft once again, and those with views will be able to have them heard in due course,” commented FoAS Chairman, Alasdair Page. “We await news of how DNPA will be consulting with interested parties and ensuring their views are heard more appropriately than before, but this should at least be an opportunity for those who feel passionately about the safeguarding of railway land and heritage assets on this site to have their views considered properly and under the spotlight.”

“This will be our last chance, your last chance, to make a difference,” Alasdair Page told supporters. “We recognise this is now a fight to be taken on by the many passionate voices we’ve been hearing among the town’s people and beyond, who see the need for a longer term vision for this site,” said Mr Page as he reiterated the call for capable volunteers to come forward and take the campaign forward. Responses are invited to info@friendsofashburtonstation.co.uk

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