Tavistock-Bere Alston Rail Reinstatement Scheme
Update on progress on the 50th Anniversary of the Beeching Report
On the 50th anniversary of the Beeching Report it is good to see that one of the old closed Beeching lines is hoping to see renewed life. The Bere Alston to Tavistock line was closed in 1968 following the Beeching report, thereby cutting off one of the major market towns in Devon and Cornwall from the rail network.
Approximately 5 years ago Kilbride Group looked at a number of rail lines across Devon and Cornwall to see what opportunities there may be for re-opening some of the old branch lines. Demographics have changed considerably since the lines were closed and the increasing demand for new housing development at the same time placed increasing pressure on the rural, constrained road network in the area.
Kilbride Group identified development land in Tavistock that could be used to satisfy the growing housing demand and worked with West Devon Borough Council and Devon County Council to promote the case for developing the Tavistock site in conjunction with the reinstatement of the Bere Alston to Tavistock line. This project will help realise a long-standing aspiration of the County Council to reopen the line.nnTavistock is not unique in that the road connections to the town are constrained and only capable of limited improvement as they run through Dartmoor National Park and challenging terrain. Rail was the clear solution for delivering quality residential development with the necessary transportation and infrastructure.
Having taken the project through the new local plan process in West Devon the land and rail line were allocated in the new core strategy following an Examination in Public and a vote by the members of West Devon Borough Council. Kilbride Group then signed up Bovis Homes to deliver the housing, who are now preparing the first planning application for up to 750 housing units in Tavistock through which a S106 agreement can be put in place to set up a fund to carry out the rail reinstatement.
Kilbride Group continues to have an interest in the project and is assisting with the consent process, but the rail reinstatement is now being led by Devon County as the statutory transport authority for the area and Bovis Homes is leading on the residential development.nnThe rail line will require Transport and Works Act Order (TWAO) approval, but Devon County are leading a major push to carry out the necessary design works prior to the TWAO application. The County Council deserves the highest praise for its vision in providing the necessary support for the scheme, which forms a part of its considerable success with rail projects in Devon.
Kilbride Group looks forward to the submission of the planning application for the housing by Bovis and for Devon County to then be able to turn its attention to the consents for the reinstatement of the rail line, reversing Beeching’s decisions of 50 years ago and reconnect a town that will have a population of approximately 15,000 people by the time the rail line is open. Having set up the Tavistock project Kilbride are now turning their attention to other possible rail led schemes, safe in the knowledge that although there is much still to do the scheme is in good hands with Bovis Homes and Devon County Council.