New hope for restoration of 
railway viaduct

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Talks are taking place to secure a project which would see Bennerley Viaduct in Awsworth transformed into a walkway and cycle path.

Sustainable transport charity Sustrans decided to not make a second bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund after its first was rejected.

And it has now passed overall responsibility for the project to Railway Paths, the owners of the former railway viaduct, and will be a partner in the project.

Sustrans, Railway Paths and the Friends of Bennerley Viaduct will now meet to discuss the way forward and suggest additional partners for the project which could help out financially.

Geoff Wynch, friends chairman, said: “We have been told by Sustrans now that any project that goes forward will be led by Railway Paths.

“Railway Paths will hold a workshop in a couple of weeks where it will discuss various options for the project with partners, which at this stage is ourselves and Sustrans.

“It will look at possible projects and possible new sources of funding from potential new partners.”

Sustrans made a bid to the HLF last year to turn the viaduct into a cycle path and walkway.

Finance was refused – but only just – and Sustrans was were advised to re-apply because success with first applications was uncommon.

However, Sustrans decided not to re-apply, saying it felt the financial pressure would fall on the charity if it could not get funding.

The friends, who are campaigning for the viaduct to be restored, were disappointed by this and met Sustrans last month to discuss the way forward.

Mr Wynch said: “Sustrans said it had not abandoned the project, but could not risk it financially.

“It needed to look at less expensive less ambitious alternatives. Sustrans said it had passed things onto Railway Paths but was still a partner in the project.

“As far as we are concerned we want to keep the original project or something like that.

“I think Railway Paths probably want something smaller but we need to go in there and argue our case.

“Hopefully we can find new partners and bring extra financial help on board.”

Will Haynes, Railway Paths principal officer said: “Railway Paths, as the owner of Bennerley Viaduct, is committed to working with Sustrans to develop an alternative, more affordable solution to open up the viaduct to the public.

“The first step in this process will be to identify the realistic options and arrive at a preferred solution, working with the friends.

“We are grateful for the commitment of the local community over the past few years in contributing their time toward the upkeep of the viaduct and hope people will be willing to continue to work toward securing the future of the viaduct in this way.”