DC Casebook: Community Facilities - Railway retained for recreational use

Plans for a wildlife reserve and community woodland on a former rail line in Kent have been rejected after an inspector decided that the land must be kept as a long-distance footpath and cycleway.

The line had been disused for many years and unrestricted access to the area was prized by residents for its landscape and wildlife. However, Sustrans had identified the site's potential as part of a footpath and cycleway using much of the former rail line between Canterbury and Whitstable. This was confirmed as a specific proposal in the local plan. The primacy of the development plan should be first port of call in decision-making, the inspector held.

The appellant would have preferred the route to follow a strip of land behind domestic gardens. The inspector observed that this provided access to gardens, sheds and garages and saw potential for conflict or obstruction. He found the appellant's objective laudable in principle but held that the approach cut across long-standing intentions for the redundant railway.

DCS Number 100-069-315

Inspector Michael Aldous; Hearing

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