Campaigners fear building could jeopardise rail revival

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PLANS to build housing, shops and offices could jeopardise the restoration of the Woodhead rail route between Sheffield and Manchester, campaigners fear.

Enthusiasts pushing for the line to be restored have voiced concerns over proposals for an old coal depot next to the former railway on St Mary’s Road, Penistone.

The plans include building on part of the old trackbed.

The application to Barnsley Council is for demolition of a former workshop building, revamping another building on the site for commercial use, and building 13 dwellings and two industrial units.

Andrew Mooney, a member of the Reopen The Woodhead Line campaign group, said: “It is directly upon the old track alignment that the Woodhead route took through Penistone town centre, in the old goods yard.

“It will block everything and leave just a small footpath for cyclists to use.”

Concerns have also been raised by Penistone and Stocksbridge MP Angela Smith, who is in favour of the railway reopening.

She said: “This application could create serious problems in any future plan to re-open the Woodhead rail route.

“I will be submitting to the council’s planning department my view that the application has to consider whether or not it will damage irretrievably any project to reopen the railway line. If this is thought to be the case, it should be refused.”

Nobody from the developer, London-based Reliant Building Contractors, was available for comment.

But Barnsley Council said enough room is proposed to be left to allow a railway to be reinstated.

A spokesman said: “We have a Core Strategy Policy that does safeguard the route of existing and historical railway lines.”