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Bid by Burntwood Action Group to reopen disused Lichfield to Brownhills railway line as cycle and walking route set to receive Community Infrastructure Levy funding snub

A project bidding to create a cycle and walking route along the line of the disused Brownhills to Lichfield railway line is set to see its bid for funding rejected by Lichfield District Council.

The local authority’s Cabinet will meet this evening to discuss a report about how the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) funding pot should be spent.

An initial bidding process saw six projects identified which could “potentially” meet the criteria for accessing the funding, which is paid for by developers in the district.

The route of the former railway line

Five projects re-applied, including the Burntwood Action Group’s Back the Track scheme which has previously been supported by the area’s MP Michael Fabricant.

But a report from Cllr Ian Pritchard, Cabinet member for economic growth, environment and development service, reveals that a bid for £35,000 is likely to be rejected.

It said: “The Strategic Infrastructure Group agreed that the Back the Track application did not clearly articulate need, benefit or value to enable a meaningful assessment of the submission and therefore did not recommend the allocation of any funding.”

Only one Burntwood-based project was put forward for approval, with Staffordshire County Council’s request for £44,000 to improve access routes and improve parts of Chasewater Country Park earmarked for approval, providing match funding is secured.

Another scheme likely to achieve their request according to the report is the Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust’s bid for £35,000 – which comes in the wake of a legal row between the organisation and the council over funding in relation to a new Lichfield housing development.

Two other schemes will receive some money but not as much as they had initially bid for:

  • Westgate Practice – initially applied for £185,619 to allow for refurbishment and additional clinical rooms. Report recommends £120,000 approval.
  • King Edward VI School – initially applied for £1.8m to provide additional secondary school places in Lichfield. Report recommends £101,000.

Another application from Netherstowe School was rejected as it was submitted after the application deadline.

Cllr Pritchard’s report says that the council will review the application process for future CIL payments going forward after admitting a number of funding bids were not eligible for the funding in the first place.

He said: “There are areas in the current procedures that could be improved to ensure that quality bids come forward and robust and meaningful recommendations can be made in respect of suggested CIL spend.”

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