Decision details

Stockton and Darlington Railway Walking and Cycling Route

Decision Maker: Cabinet

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: No

Is subject to call in?: Yes


Update regarding design process, funding, planning applications and / or negotiations for access, new public rights of way or cycle tracks.


The Cabinet Member with the Local Services Portfolio introduced the report of the Director of Economic Growth and Neighbourhood Services (previously circulated) requesting that consideration be given to the proposed alignment of the Stockton and Darlington Railway Walking and Cycling route as a continuous public right of way through the Borough; that funding be sought from as many sources as possible so that it can be delivered for the bicentenary in September 2025; and that the Council works with the other partners on the Rail Heritage Board to jointly promote the route as part of the tourism strategy.


The submitted report stated that the Stockton and Darlington Railway Heritage Action Zone was established in 2018 and covered the 26 mile route of the railway from Witton Park in Durham to Stockton via Darlington; it linked together heritage assets along its length including key tourism sites at Locomotion in Shildon, Head of Steam Museum in Darlington and Preston Park in Stockton; and that aim of the scheme was to create a 26 mile route as close to the original alignment as possible, so that people could walk and cycle its full length. 


It was reported that some sections already existed but there were significant gaps that needed completing so that there was a temporary or permanent continuous route in place for the bicentenary celebrations in 2025; a steering group consisting of representatives from the three local authorities and other organisations including the Friends of Stockton and Darlington Railway had already commissioned an audit and feasibility study for the route which had been presented to the Railway Heritage Board; the major redevelopment of the Head of Steam site as the Rail Heritage Quarter provided an opportunity to integrate the route into this site and kickstart the work to build the rest of the route; and that the next stage was to design up sections of the route and identify the most appropriate ways of delivering them, including the creation of Public Rights of Way, negotiating with landowners and developers and securing funding.


In welcoming the report, Members requested assurance that should the route not be completed for the 2025 celebrations, that it would be completed at a later date; the route would be accessible to all, for both walking and cycling; that it complied with Local Transport Note 120; and that it would be highlighted in the Council’s heritage and tourism plans.  The Cabinet Member with the Local Services Portfolio responded thereon.


RESOLVED – (a) That the work completed on the audit and feasibility study, as detailed in the submitted report, be noted, and the alignment of the Stockton and Darlington Railway Walking and Cycling Route, be agreed.

(b)  That the work to create the Public Rights of Way and design each section be started.


(c)  That funding be sought as opportunities become available including through development and section 106 monies, third parties including public and private sector organisations, Government funding and the Tees Valley Combined Authority, and that any funding secured, be subsequently released.


(d)  That a joint branding strategy be developed with the other partners so that the route can be waymarked consistently.


(e)  That the Director of Economic Growth and Neighbourhood Services, in consultation with the Cabinet Member with the Local Services Portfolio, be authorised to negotiate and agree terms for the acquisition or compensation of third-party interests relating to the route in line with the submitted report.


REASONS – (a)  To enable discussion with land owners and other interested parties so that the route is designed into ongoing land use and planning decisions.


(b)  To ensure that a publicly accessible route which is inspected, maintained and managed is in place for the bicentenary celebrations in 2025.


(c)  To fund the work to provide the physical infrastructure so that the route is accessible to as many people as possible.


(d)  To provide a recognisable route that can be promoted as part of the Tees Valley tourism strategy to walkers and cyclists as well as those interested in railways and history.


(e)  To ensure third party interests can be acquired or compensated where appropriate to achieve the proposed route.?????


Report author: Lynne Wood

Publication date: 16/11/2020

Date of decision: 10/11/2020

Decided at meeting: 10/11/2020 - Cabinet

Effective from: 24/11/2020

Accompanying Documents: