Cinder Track sympathetic Restoration Plan
Using a grant from the Coastal Revival Fund, a draft plan for a sympathetic restoration of the old railway line between Scarborough and Whitby has been developed by sustainable transport charity, Sustrans, for consideration by Scarborough Borough Council.
The draft ‘Restoration Plan’ for the popular 21.5 mile multi-user route, known as the Cinder Track, recognises that the track needs substantial investment and proactive management to protect it for future use by all those that use it for recreation, tourism or daily transport, including walkers, horse riders, cyclists, runners and dog owners.
Broad principles for improving the track in relation to drainage, path construction, vegetation, vehicle use and improved multi-user access are set out, along with 41 section-by-section maps depicting proposals and suggestions. An initial assessment of ecological issues has been made, but the plan acknowledges that more information needs to be gathered and further work undertaken in ensuring that the Cinder Track thrives as a wildlife corridor and ancient woodland is protected.
Information about the economic and wider benefits of restoring the Cinder Track is also included in the plan, together with a summary of a cost benefit analysis showing that the proposed works would deliver ‘very high’ value for money, especially in terms of health, journey quality and local economy benefits.
A separately commissioned study for the Whitby end of the Cinder Track has been completed and is incorporated into the plan.
A steering group made up of the North York Moors National Park Authority, Friends of the Old Railway, Gateway Whitby, Scarborough Borough Council and Sustrans has been involved in the plan’s development, which has taken into account the views of more than 1,000 people who took part in an online consultation earlier this year. The consultation was carried out for Sustrans by Groundwork North Yorkshire. 78% of respondents to the online consultation agreed that the Cinder Track needs to be improved. The track’s drainage and surface were the most commented upon aspects and those points of view have been used to help shape the proposals.
Rupert Douglas, Sustrans Network Development Manager for Yorkshire explained:
"We are very clear that a tarmac surface is not suitable and is not appropriate for the whole 21.5 miles, so we have provided information about alternative surface options for consideration at sensitive locations such as in the North York Moors National Park. There'll need to be more consultation with local communities about these options in more detail as part of the planning process.
"We feel that sympathetically restoring the track to a high quality and all weather user friendly route for all, while preserving the habitat the route provides flora and fauna, will give the local community an asset to enjoy and be proud of and will also have a very positive impact on the visitor economy of the Yorkshire coast in the long term."
Parish and town councils and other interested groups have also been given opportunities to make comments on the draft plan, ahead of its submission to Scarborough Borough Council.
Scarborough Borough Council is conscious of the public interest in the draft plan and intends to present it to its Overview and Scrutiny Board for consideration and comment in September. Subject to the outcome of that meeting, the draft plan will then be the subject of a report to the council’s Cabinet in the autumn.
If Cabinet approves the Restoration Plan as a way forward for the Cinder Track, further work on the ecological assessment and finer details of the proposals will be carried out.
If funding for the restoration work is obtained, the proposals will be subject to planning permission involving North York Moors National Park and Scarborough Borough Council, which will include statutory public consultation.