Ambitious plans to extend Bala narrow gauge railway hit the buffers
Ambitious plans to extend a popular Eryri (Snowdonia) lake narrow gauge railway have hit the buffers.
The National Park Authority’s planning group yesterday (Wednesday, April 19) turned down proposals for an extension to Llyn Tegid Railway in Bala.
For the past nine years, the Rheilffordd Llyn Tegid (Bala Lake Railway) Trust have been aiming to extend the track from its current station at Penybont, on the lakeshore, to a new terminus close to the town centre.
The scheme would have resulted in an extension being created, comprising of 1200m of railway track, along with the installation of a level crossing, new station building, ancillary engine and carriage building and signal box.
More than £1.4m has been spent on acquiring the land and drawing up plans for the project.
Whilst officers said the new station could help regenerate that part of the town and enhance a local conservation area, it needed to be carefully designed.
Dwr Cymru objected to the scheme on the grounds that the development would be created on top of several public sewerage works and water mains to which access is required at all times.
Earlier this week, Julian Birley from the Bala Lake Railway Trust issued a statement saying that fears over pollution were unfounded.
He said the project had generated “unprecedented support” at every level, including local MP Liz Saville Roberts, MS Mabon ap Gwynfor, business owners and residents.
A statement released by the National Park Authority on Wednesday said: “At the National Park Authority’s planning and access committee this morning, planning approval for the extension of the Llyn Tegid railway into the town of Bala was refused.
“The recommendation for members to reject the permission was based on several reasons.
“Although there was potential for some issues to be resolved through the provision of further information by the applicant, others were of such significance that they could not have been resolved within the scope of this application, despite planning officers’ working closely with the developers from the very beginning.
“These included the effect of the development on the River Dee and Llyn Tegid Special Area of Conservation; as well as insufficient information about the development’s effect on the local road network in terms of access, traffic and congestion levels, and the safety of pedestrians and road users.
“Natural Resources Wales and the Welsh Government’s highways department also objected to the approval of the application.”
It added: “The authority recognises the economic benefits of this development to the town of Bala, and it sympathises with the applicant’s disappointment.
“Planning officers support the principle of this development, and are of the opinion that there is potential for this development to be approved in the future, provided that all the required information is submitted.
“However, as some aspects of the application does not satisfy regulatory requirements, it was impossible for planning officers to reccommend the approval of the application today.
“The applicant is free to appeal the decision, or to re-submit the application once all the relevant information has come to hand.”
The two-foot gauge line runs along a 4.5-mile section of the trackbed of the former Ruabon – Barmouth line. It opened in 1972 and celebrated its 50th anniversary last year.
By Dale Spridgeon – Local Democracy Reporter
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