Using a grant from the Coastal Revival Fund, we have developed a draft plan for a sympathetic restoration of the old railway line between Scarborough and Whitby for consideration by Scarborough Borough Council.
The draft ‘Restoration Plan’ for the popular 21 mile long shared-use route, known as the Cinder Track, recognises that the pathway needs substantial investment and proactive management to protect it for future use by all those that use it. The route is used for recreation, tourism and daily transport by lots of people including walkers, horse riders, cyclists, runners and dog owners.
Broad principles for improving the track in relation to drainage, path construction, vegetation, vehicle use and improved multi-user access are set out in the plan, along with 41 section-by-section maps depicting proposals and suggestions.
An initial assessment of ecological issues has been made, but the plan acknowledges that more information needs to be gathered and further work undertaken to ensure that the Cinder Track thrives as a wildlife corridor and ancient woodland is protected.
Information about the economic and wider benefits of restoring the Cinder Track is also included in the plan. There is also a summary of a cost benefit analysis showing that the proposed works would deliver ‘very high’ value for money, especially in terms of health, journey quality and local economy benefits.
A separately commissioned study for the Whitby end of the Cinder Track has been completed and incorporated into the plan.
Consulting the community
A steering group made up of the North York Moors National Park Authority, Friends of the Old Railway, Gateway Whitby, Scarborough Borough Council and Sustrans has been involved in the plan’s development, which has taken into account the views of more than 1,000 people who took part in an online consultation earlier this year.
The consultation was carried out for Sustrans by Groundwork North Yorkshire. It revealed that 78% of respondents agreed that the Cinder Track needs to be improved. The track’s drainage and surface were the most commented upon aspects and this feedback has been used to help shape the proposals.
Rupert Douglas, Sustrans Network Development Manager for Yorkshire explained:
“We are very clear that a tarmac surface is not suitable and is not appropriate for the whole 21.5 miles, so we have provided information about alternative surface options for consideration at sensitive locations such as in the North York Moors National Park. There’ll need to be more consultation with local communities about these options in more detail as part of the planning process.
“We feel that sympathetically restoring the track to a high quality and all weather, user-friendly route for all while preserving the habitat the route provides for flora and fauna will give the local community an asset to enjoy and be proud of. It will also have a very positive impact on the visitor economy of the Yorkshire coast in the long term.”
The next steps
Parish and town councils and other interested groups have also been given opportunities to make comments on the draft plan, ahead of its submission to Scarborough Borough Council.
Scarborough Borough Council is conscious of the public interest in the draft plan and intends to present it to its Overview and Scrutiny Board for consideration and comment in September.
Subject to the outcome of that meeting, the draft plan will then be the subject of a report to the council’s Cabinet in the autumn.
If the Cabinet approves the restoration plan as a way forward for the Cinder Track, further work on the ecological assessment and finer details of the proposals will be carried out.
If funding is obtained, the proposals will be subject to planning permission involving North York Moors National Park and Scarborough Borough Council, which will include statutory public consultation.