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Transport group's appeal to preserve March to Spalding railway line in Cowbit likely to fail, admits county councillor for village




Cowbit's voice at county level has raised doubts of a comeback for the Spalding to March rail line, despite the "travesty" of its closure.

Coun Nigel Pepper, Lincolnshire County Council member for Cowbit, admitted the likelihood of the rail line being reopened was slim, despite calls by the English Regional Transport Association for a planned housing scheme on the site to be conditional on the rail track being protected.

However, Coun Pepper did share his hope that developers of the former Station Yard site, off Mill Drove South, Cowbit, can be persuaded to include the 19th century goods shed in its scheme.

Coun Nigel Pepper, Lincolnshire County Council member for Cowbit. Photo by Tim Wilson. SG030817-206TW.
Coun Nigel Pepper, Lincolnshire County Council member for Cowbit. Photo by Tim Wilson. SG030817-206TW.

Coun Pepper said: "When one considers the amount of work and engineering involved to construct the line and its associated infrastructure, using limited and basic equipment, the closure of the Spalding to March rail line was a travesty and short-sighted decision which, in turn, has increased the amount of traffic on our roads.

"Although there are still visible signs of a defunct railway between Spalding and March, they are becoming less and less with the passage of time.

"Sadly, in my 'heart of hearts', I cannot see the line ever being resurrected and put back into use and the proposed development on the track bed in Cowbit reinforces my thoughts.

The 19th century good shed in Cowbit which is hoped will be kept as part of a new housing development on the site.
The 19th century good shed in Cowbit which is hoped will be kept as part of a new housing development on the site.

"However, I hope South Holland District Council can work with the developer to retain and convert the 19th century goods shed which has remained relatively well-preserved."

Meanwhile, Coun Pepper offered his support to Cowbit St Mary's Primary School in holding talks with county education leaders about its pupil numbers.

The school is set to miss out on nearly £101,500 worth of funding linked with the Mill Drove South scheme, with the money set to be used on expanding Weston Hills Primary School instead.

Coun Pepper said: "It is disappointing to hear that funding generated from one village has been directed to another.

"However, it is my understanding that Cowbit St Mary's Primary School currently has 63 pupils on its roll and has a capacity for a total of 84 pupils, therefore having 21 available spaces.

Cowbit St Mary's Primary is likely to miss out on nearly £101,500 of developer's educational funding.
Cowbit St Mary's Primary is likely to miss out on nearly £101,500 of developer's educational funding.

"The next nearest primary school to Cowbit is at Weston Hills which, I understand, is at its capacity and with some parents from Cowbit choosing to take their children to Weston Hills, rather than Cowbit St Mary's.

"Lincolnshire County Council has a statutory duty to ensure the sufficiency of school places, including the provision of capital funding for sufficient places at maintained schools, academies and free schools.

"In this instance, the developer's agreement of £101,487 for additional education capacity from the proposed Cowbit development has therefore been directed to Weston Hills Primary School.

SYMPATHETIC VIEW: Cowbit county councillor Nigel Pepper. Photo (TIM WILSON): 020818144SG
SYMPATHETIC VIEW: Cowbit county councillor Nigel Pepper. Photo (TIM WILSON): 020818144SG

"Meanwhile, I understand that should Cowbit St Mary's reach capacity at some point, there is provision within the school building to provide additional educational space.

"Cowbit St Mary's Primary School is an integral part of the education network to the south of Spalding and I support the good work being undertaken there.

"I believe that development in the area will sustain it as a viable school for local children in the years and understand that should it reach capacity at some point, there is provision within the school building to provide additional educational space.

"Therefore, I consider it would be of benefit for the school to open up a dialogue with the county education department regarding future capacity provision."



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