Planning control



The former railway land which remains undeveloped is safeguarded by Bradford Council as land of local importance for nature conservation and the provision of walking, cycling and horseriding routes. Policy statements accompanying the Unitary Development Plan (Replacement Plan June 2001) have strengthened the protection of disused railways in Bradford District for sustainable transport purposes (see previous page).

Notwithstanding some recent planning consents and current planning applications are relevant to this study:

Thornton Primary School
Planning consent has been granted (10.03.01) to Bradford Council for the erection of school extensions and additional car parking provision at Thornton Primary School. The school occupies the site of Thornton Railway Station. The development is not affected by the proposals in this report.

Thornton Road, Thornton
A development of 94 new houses is proposed at Thornton adjacent to the railway formation after extensive landfilling of waste material to level the site. The former railway track and bridge 39 are outside the proposed development site. The scheme includes an open playspace alongside the railway formation. We recommend that the developer (R & C Group Ltd of Menston) is invited to contribute to the cycleway scheme and provide linking routes into the new development as a condition of consent. Negotiations are proceeding with the Council's planning officers.

Thornton Road, Thornton
Britannia Developments Ltd have recently completed The Chase, a development of 29 houses alongside the railway. Our proposals include a linking route into this scheme.

High Birks Queensbury
Planning consent has been granted (24.07.01) to C Summers Esq for a limited period for the deposit of waste and landscaped restoration of a section of the railway formation from Cockin Lane to Headley Lane by 10th August 2003. Our proposals show the Trail built through this corridor after completion of the landfill operations. (Subject to consent)

At Cullingworth
Land zoned for employment use alongside the railway is to be the subject of a change of use application according to the landowner's agent. The new proposal, subject to consent, is for residential development (10.62 acres), and additional facilities for Parkside School. The railway between Cullingworth viaduct and Doll Lane is within the same ownership and is shown on the new scheme proposals as a footpath/nature trail with cycle/footpath links to the school site and housing. See map 1.

Queensbury Junction
Planning permission was granted in (1.12.94) for the deposit of inert waste and landscaped restoration at Queensbury Junction (formerly the site of Queensbury Railway Station), subject to submission of a five year aftercare scheme, for approval before the deposit of waste, to be carried out on completion of restoration.

In 1998 consent was given for the "processing, screening and storage of material" on a further piece of the station site.

The 1994 consent lapsed in 1999 with the applicant (Blackshaw Landfill Ltd) in breach of the planning conditions.

Planning permission was refused (14.08.01) for agricultural remediation and landfill to a maximum depth of two metres on a site adjoining Queensbury Junction

A planning application was submitted (05.10.01) for consent to import a further 22,000 cubic metres of inert waste and landscaped restoration. The applicant is Blackshaw Landfill Ltd and objections have been made to Bradford Council.

An amended scheme was submitted on February 6th 2002 reducing the proposed new fill to 21,000 cubic metres and demonstrating how a trail could still be incorporated. Objections have been made to the amended scheme.

The proposals in this report include remedying the planning breach by moving and removing inert waste, as required, re-landscaping, building paths through the site to link Station Road and Brow Lane, and optimising the opportunity for interpretation of the railway heritage in consultation with local railway historians.



Estimates of costs

1. Land Acquisition
by negotiation

2. Construction

New path construction, on trackbed 2.55km @ £50,000/km

New path construction, off trackbed 4.1km @ £60,000/km
Existing roads including Station Road Queensbury 1.7kms

Cullingworth viaduct 150m, allow surfacing full width to Hewenden viaduct 312m, waterproof viaduct @ £80/m
Thornton viaduct 300m, allow lead in balustrades & £10,000/km


Well Heads Tunnel
[a] Path construction 600m @ £30,000/km including drainage
plus £15,000 for repairing Denholme Portal
plus £20,000 for masonry repairs

[b] Low level lighting 600m @ £25,000



Thornton Road bridge, allow £100,000 provided bridge is intact so as to allow step-by-step excavation and insertion of precast concrete culvert units
Thornton Primary School southern boundary fencing
500m @ £10/m to reuse existing fence
Traffic calming - Cockin Lane
Seat, signs, access controls, public art
Management and Engineering @ 12.5%

3. Maintenance
£25,000 p.a.







Maintenance consists of routine and long term requirements.

Routine jobs are:
- Mowing verges twice a year
- Removing litter, and pruning back shrubs and trees
- Repairs to access controls, signs and seats
- Minor repairs to path surface as required

Longer term maintenance consists of resurfacing the path as it wears and becomes unsuitable for its intended use.

As the network expands, the best way of dealing with routine maintenance is through the appointment of a part time ranger supported by Sustrans' voluntary rangers scheme. This scheme is managed by Sustrans and grant supported by external agencies. Sustrans finds it can recruit enthusiastic volunteers from its supporters base who will use the route regularly and report any problems.

We estimate £25,000pa to include a part time paid ranger and an annual contribution of £10,000 into a separate bridge maintenance account, to be drawn on when required. Figures based on our experience on the 11km Spen Valley Greenway.


Note: The estimated costs relating to the viaducts and tunnel assume that the current owner, Rail Property Ltd will retain some - albeit reduced - repair liabilities.




Possible funding sources



West Yorkshire Local Transport Plan
Bradford Package Programme for:
- Cycling
- Walking
- Horseriding
- Safer Routes to Schools
- Casualty reduction budgets

Yorkshire Forward

European Regeneration Programmes

National Cycling Strategy Board

Landfill Tax Grants Lottery Grants
- Heritage
- Sport
- New Opportunities SEED Programme

Railway Heritage Trust

Countryside Agency

Standing Conference of South Pennine Authorities







The progress of the project depends on funding, planning consent, footpath conversion orders and land agreements. However it seems reasonable to anticipate three phases of development.

1. Queensbury to Thornton, including the links to new housing;

2. Ten Yards Lane Denholme to Cullingworth;

3. Thornton Road crossing to Doe Park Reservoir via Well Heads Tunnel.

Each of these phases could be constructed in succeeding financial years creating a three year programme for full delivery of the route. If land agreements are concluded more quickly at the Cullingworth end, then clearly Phase 1 would become Cullingworth to Denholme.






This report indicates that an exciting and popular trail can be developed along this famous railway route using what remains of the railway infrastructure including three magnificent viaducts and the 662m long Well Heads Tunnel. Leaving the railway to avoid lost sections allows the route to divert unexpectedly and delightfully around Doe Park Reservoir, and again at Gleid Hill giving sensational views of the approach to Hewenden viaduct.

Bradford Council has protected the railway corridor in the revised Unitary Development Plan and we believe the project will attract the funds required for construction if planning approval is forthcoming and private owners grant public access.

Links from the Great Northern Trail to Bradford, Halifax, Haworth and the Aire Valley would make the Trail a focal point for cycle tourism in this part of West Yorkshire. Suggested routes, which still need studying in detail, from and to the Trail are indicated in the appendix.



The next step...


Public consultation and further discussion with private land owners.





Haworth Village

Queensbury Village