National transport group calls for rethink on planned housing development in Cowbit which could be 'another nail in the coffin' for old Spalding-March railway line
Transport campaigners have questioned a decision to allow up to 45 homes to be built on a former railway line in Cowbit.
A development of more than four acres of land that was once occupied by Cowbit Rail Station has been questioned by the English Regional Transport Association (ERTA).
It claims that any development of the former Station Yard and Croft House Nursery, off Mill Drove South, Cowbit, would be "another nail in the coffin" for hopes of reopening the March-Spalding railway line which closed in November 1982.
South Holland District Council's planning committee gave outline planning permission for the development at a meeting last month.
But ERTA spokesman Richard Pill said: "This rail link was a strategic one for south Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire which is why it needs to be reopened.
"However, this development will block the line and be another nail in the coffin for the former March-Spalding rail corridor which survived the closures of the 1960s.
"We would like South Holland District Council to consider asking the developer to keep the rail trackbeds open and then find a way for them to be protected so it can be reopened eventually.
"Otherwise they will drift into oblivion at a time when, after 30 years of growth in the volume of road transport, this rail link is needed now as never before."
ERTA's position has been backed by George Scott, chairman of Spalding and Peterborough Transport Forum which campaigns for the reopening of the former Littleworth Rail Station in Deeping St Nicholas.
Mr Scott said: "It would be a great plan to reopen the line but, in reality and compared to Littleworth, there seems to be little chance of this happening.
"What is of concern though is the underlying prospect of seeing more traffic on our roads as the housebuilding in our area is growing.
"If the volume of cars and lorries grows, further congesting our roads, with no immediate thoughts given to improving transport links, I feel this is a problem that is only going to grow."
A report for the planning committee said: "The development of the former Station Yard would involve the demolition of an attractive 19th century goods shed which forms part of the historic Cowbit rail station complex.
"However, it is not considered reasonable to refuse consent for this reason."
A spokesman for Cowbit Parish Council said: "The council currently has no policy or opinion on reinstating the March to Spalding railway link as we are not aware of any viable and costed proposal for putting the line back into use.
"Such a proposal would need to address the significant amount of building that has already taken place along the former rail route, in particular, at the Spalding and March ends.
"We also suspect that, given the amount of development on the trackbed within Cowbit, and the fact that the new A16 now crosses the former route twice, it would be cheaper and easier to build a new diversionary route across the flat land to the west of the village than to reinstate the old route."