A local councillor says proposals to open up a former railway line as a walkway or cycle path between Lichfield and Burntwood would make Hammerwich a “juicy target” for developers.

The former railway line through Hammerwich. Picture: Geoff Pick. Available for reuse under this Creative Commons licence

Lichfield District Council’s draft Local Plan 2040 has outlined proposals to prevent developments which would prevent future use of the route of the Lichfield to Walsall line.

The local authority’s leader, Cllr Doug Pullen, confirmed discussions over creating a new trail along the line were taking place with Network Rail.

But Cllr Vance Wasdell, chairman of Hammerwich Parish Council, said the idea of a walking or cycling route would risk opening up the area to increased housing development.

“Converting it to a footpath would suit developers who see Hammerwich green belt as a juicy target and well within what they could afford.

“Those that want a footpath should help with redeveloping the canal – a project that is more beneficial for wildlife and the towpath as good or better for human recreation.”

Cllr Vance Wasdell, Hammerwich Parish Council

Cllr Wasdell said people living near the former line would rather see trains run along the route again – despite the last passenger services operating through the village in 1965.

“As a Hammerwich resident I am aware that there is plenty of support for a rail service with a local station, which could be provided on the old Charrington’s site to serve the Burntwood area.

“I would expect the main traffic flows would be from Burntwood and Brownhills to Birmingham, as at the moment this traffic is almost totally car-based with little viable public transport.

“Should congestion charging come into being in Birmingham or parts of the West Midlands, non-rail served communities – such as Burntwood – will be the big losers.

“Burntwood is closer to Birmingham via Walsall by rail than Lichfield is to Sutton Coldfield, so commuting from Burntwood should be both cheaper and quicker.

“There would be the added bonus of a ten minute journey to Walsall and good connections to Wolverhampton, Shropshire or even a day out at Aberystwyth.”

Cllr Vance Wasdell, Hammerwich Parish Council

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  1. Instead of fearing the idea that a cycle path may make the area attractive to developers….why can’t we have the cycle path and just refuse planning applications? The two things are and should be mutually exclusive….or am I missing something?

  2. Clyde some one has to pay for turning the railway into a footpath,it is either the council tax payer or a developer that is what you missed

  3. Surely a new station would be more likely to attract developers hungry for the commuter market that a greenway used by walkers and cyclist just passing through?

  4. I’m sure the Hammerwich Neighbourhood Plan suggests that in the absence of trains the trackbed could be used as a greenway.

  5. I would have thought that a railway station would attract more interest from developers than a cycle track. I’m sure that there would be many local residents who would be willing to help with the necessary work as has been seen on the Maclean Way.

  6. The view from the parish and Cllr Nimby seems a little at odds with conventional wisdom.

    A walking and cycling route would be a magnet for developers wanting to build on land surrounding it? But a re-opened railway line with a new station serving the village would not be at all attractive to housebuilders?

    What in the what now?

  7. Exactly the other way round, if there’s a railway, developers are much more likely to be all over Hammerwich, as for funding a walkway, the stretch in Brownhills and beyond, has been done and maintained completely by volunteers, check out the Friends of McClean Ways Facebook page to see the fantastic work they have done

  8. Veteran you would upset the cyclists but it is a good idea,could go right through to Walsall,better still a light tram way

  9. What rail supporters seem unaware of is that the track from Brownhills to Walsall does not now belong to Network Rail. The freehold was bought by Railway Paths and Sustrans. This section is now used by hundreds of people a week and exit steps have opened up numerous local circular off road routes to both walkers and cyclists.
    When work started on the Pelsall to Brownhills section all the negatives that are now coming out were present then. But guess what? Nothing but praise now as all the knee jerk reactions became unfounded. Please don’t deny the Lichfield and surrounding communities the pleasure that this Greenway would afford.

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