18th August 2009
We are writing to you to seek your support in principle for the campaign to re-open Baschurch Station, about eight miles north of Shrewsbury on the line to Wrexham and Chester.
Baschurch Station, opened in 1848, was closed in 1960, a decision that many saw at the time as misguided, as it was busy with passengers and freight, and served a large area beyond the boundaries of Baschurch itself.
The site of Baschurch Station is currently passed by the services of Arriva Trains Wales, and Wrexham, Shropshire and Marylebone Railway, which between them would offer an hourly service or better, were they to call there, south towards Shrewsbury and north towards Wrexham or Chester. The handsome Victorian station building is currently privately owned, and, while not derelict, is in need of considerable restoration and refurbishment. The owner has indicated that he is supportive of the principle of the station coming back into use, and would be willing to sell the building back to a public sector owner for the benefit of the community. The old goods yard adjacent is owned by a stonemasonry company who have expressed similar enthusiasm for the project, and would be willing to release sufficient land for car parking, etc.
Within a three-mile radius of Baschurch Station (three miles being currently regarded as a realistic catchment area for a well-served rural station) lie also the villages of Myddle, Ruyton-XI-Towns, Harmer Hill and Bomere Heath, all of which might more realistically now be described as growing to the size of small towns. Like Baschurch, they have all acquired much new housing in recent years, and a steady stream of planning applications is still coming forward, despite the current economic downturn. The total number of households within the potential catchment area is in excess of ten thousand.
A significant proportion of the population now comprises people with professional, technical and administrative occupations who commute, mainly by car, to the Shrewsbury, Telford, Wolverhampton, Birmingham, Wrexham and Chester areas. Many also have families who travel to these and similar destinations for educational, social and leisure reasons. The area also contains several schools which draw their students from a wide area, as well as the Walford campus of Walford & North Shropshire College, and the PGL childrens’ adventure holiday centre, which is particularly busy at weekends and during school holidays.
We therefore believe that the business case for re-opening is self-evident, supported by the obvious social, economic and environmental arguments, and, if you feel that our proposal has merit, would ask you to write or e-mail the following with your views.
Michael Roberts of ATOC.
Andy Hamilton of WSMR.
Tim Bell of ATW.
Keith Barrow, Leader of the Council, Shropshire Council, Shirehall, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, SY2 6ND e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Owen Paterson, MP, (Member for North Shropshire), e-mail email@example.com
There is already considerable local support for the proposal, which has three main aims:
(a) To reinstate Baschurch Station as a point of access to the national rail network for a large number of people who currently have to use their cars or an infrequent bus service, meeting strategic Government objectives of social inclusion and reduction of congestion and CO2 emissions
(b) To enable the restoration of the historic station building, and its sympathetic modernisation and conversion not just for potential community use, but also to offer accommodation for small craft or other, preferably rural or locally-relevant businesses, to generate income for its future maintenance
(c) To act as a catalyst for local economic regeneration, encouraging the establishment of new small businesses, providing local employment and encouraging inward settlement by those who wish to both live and work in rural communities, thus meeting another Government objective, which is also a declared priority for Shropshire Council
We believe that the above, when viewed in the context of our estimate of 10,000-plus households as potential users, add up to a compelling case for adoption of this proposal by Shropshire Council as a Policy Objective, thus opening up significant avenues of external funding. We consider that the case is further strengthened by the way in which expansion of the railways has raced up the political agenda in recent years, and the huge success which has accompanied the re-opening not just of stations, but entire closed lines, especially in Scotland and Wales.
The proposal is formally supported by Baschurch Parish Council, The Shrewsbury Chronicle, Railfuture West Midlands, Shrewsbury-Chester Rail Users’ Association, and Shrewsbury Friends of the Earth, among others.
We have assembled more detailed versions of the above arguments which we will be glad to put forward if you require.
Baschurch Station Group is a voluntary community initiative by local residents.
Committee Members as at August 2009: Peter Brent, Andy Burrows, Tom Humphreys, William Jones, Cllr. Mick Paul, Steve Boulding