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Keswick to Penrith Railway Re-opening

Planning Policies

In the UK, different levels of Government have different responsibilities for land planning, transport and policy.

Over the last few years National Goverment has established the principle that the routes of former Railway lines should be protected. The intent and responsibilities are outlined in Planning Policy Guidance "PPG 13".  Regions, Counties and Districts are supposed to adopt those principles and enforce them according to their various responsibilities.

In the case of the Keswick to Penrith line:

National Government has the sole right to grant legal powers to build and operate a Railway providing a passenger service for the public.

Government Office North West (GONW), The Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) and the North West Regional Assembly (NWRA) were all involved in translating national policies into regional plans and establishing funding mechanisms until the 2010 General Election.

Those are to be replaced by "Local Enterprise Partnerships" which will take some time to become effective.

Cumbria County Council is the Local Transport Authority whose role is to coordinate transport services and information, providing funding and support where appropriate.

The Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA), Allerdale Council and Eden District Council are responsible for controlling land use and planning in their various areas.

There is no hierarchy or "chain of command" - all levels operate independently, but should consult each other.

Below is a list of the relevant policies which exist to protect Railway trackbeds in this area:

RE7 (Eden District Council).

Development proposals along the line of a disused railway will not be permitted if the use of the route for recreational purposes or the reopening of the railway are prejudiced.

The detail of this policy recognises reopening of Railways for recreational use, but the benefit of reopening as public transport (as we propose) must be far greater !

(Officers at Eden District Council suggested that if we changed the Project to a "Heritage Railway" or tourist attraction, they would be more likely to support it. This is completely the opposite of what the area, and especially the Lake District National Park, really needs.).

Paragraph 4.54 further states:

On some of these sites it will be possible by careful design to safeguard the line of the railway for future reopening or to provide a route through the development by linking rights of way along the track bed.

All that is needed at Flusco to achieve “careful design” is to insist on changes to the arrangements, boundaries or exact locations of this development (and some already approved) within the Industrial Park so that they do not impact on the Railway alignment.

There is no pressure on space within the Industrial Park at present.

There appears to be no willingness on the part of the Council to make such requirements.

Eden District Council should not try to argue that it should be free to permit further damage to the Railway trackbed because it has already been breached – that would be equivalent to a “Vandal’s charter” permitting and encouraging, for example, a house to be completely destroyed after only the windows had been broken !

Eden District Council’s local plan (as currently published)

does not provide for the reopening of the Railway – but that is a past oversight which should be recognised and reversed. Eden District Council’s own Officers have publicly acknowledged (see Cumberland and Westmorland Herald 29th January 2005) that some of its policies are out of date and that more recent guidance should be heeded.

PT9 (Eden District Council)

Development proposals that help maintain or improve public transport facilities will be permitted.

 Proposals that would result in a loss of existing public transport facilities will not be permitted.

CKP Railways plc argues that the Keswick to Penrith railway trackbed is an existing public transport facility. It is currently disused, but we are working to rectify that deficiency.

A Railway trackbed can not be easily replaced once lost – as recognised in Policy RE7 and demonstrated in detail previously by CKP Railways plc specifically for Flusco.

A trackbed without the track represents 70 – 80% of the physical and cost content of a Railway. Forcing new construction rather than allowing track to be re-laid on an existing alignment therefore immediately multiplies the costs of reopening a Railway by at least a factor of 5, often more.

CKP Railways plc believes that the Council should be held responsible for these extra costs if it permits or encourages the trackbed to be blocked, damaged or destroyed.

Eden District Council Ten Year Plan


The Ten Year Plan published early in 2007 by Eden District Council highlights several problems which could be alleviated by reconstruction of the Railway between Keswick and Penrith and the wider improvements to public transport provision which would follow.


Many of these relate to a poor transport infrastructure and resulting community, social and economic problems.

Link to Eden District Council's "Local Plan":

Click here to go to the Eden Local Plan


Lake District National Park Authority - Local Development Framework

Policies adopted in October 2010.

Policy CS04: We will support initiatives that reduce the need to travel, and strengthen thesustainable transport links between settlements in the North area withCarlisle, Cockermouth, Workington and Whitehaven. We will work withpartners to protect the redundant Keswick to Penrith railway line fromdevelopment that would compromise its future use as a sustainable transport route.

Click here to go to the policies on the LDNPA website

August 2014 - a Government Planning Inspector upheld the LDNPA's refusal to grant planning permission to "infill" a bridge at Highgate (between Throutbeck and Threlkeld). The LDNPA's written policy to protect the route was a key factor in that decision.


T 29 (Cumbria and Lake District Joint Structure Plan)

Disused railway lines and canals should be protected from development where there is potential for future reuse as viable transport routes.

RPG13 (North West Region)

“Local Authorities should protect disused railway lines from development where there is the potential for their future re-use as transport routes”.

Obviously in the case of the Keswick to Penrith Railway line, there is more than a “potential”. The Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) supports this reopening in principle and appointed consultants to investigate the business case for the reinstated railway.

PPG 13 (National Government)

Various requirements to avoid the development of roads, encourage the use and development of public transport, provide transport infrastructure with the minimum of environmental impact and indicate transport corridors within the local plan.

Obstructing the existing Railway trackbed would violate many of these inter-linked principles.

Eden District Council has previously suggested that CKP Railways plc should seek to have the route protected in the Local Plan process.

There has not been an opportunity to do so effectively in recent years, and the above policies clearly show that it is the Local Authority’s responsibility to identify and protect Railway trackbeds – this is because not every route will have yet been identified as a candidate for reopening or have a project actively being developed !

In the case of Keswick to Penrith, CKP Railways has made every effort to remind Eden District Council of the trackbed’s existence and significance, but the Council has failed to acknowledge this by applying protection.

There is no proven need to obstruct the Railway trackbed (the primary test under Government guidance PPG13). Plans submitted with most previous applications indicated the presence of the Railway trackbed, and it is shown on the Council's mapping system, so there is no excuse for not being aware of it.

Planning Decisions at Eden District Council ae made by a Committee of Members, taking advice from their Officers who are supposed to review all the evidence and objections and give an opinion based on all relevant policies.

None of these people have experience of designing or building Railways.
CKP Railways has repeatedly offered to meet Officers and members to explain the Railway Project and the relevant constraints and costs. 

These offers have been ignored or refused.

An offer to provide an Engineer on site at Flusco to explain the problems which would arise from the very first planning application was refused by the Council because, they said, it could set a precedent.

Click here for links to monitor local authority planning applications

Copyright 2007 - 2019, CKP Railways plc

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