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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Train plan opponents are ‘whingers’: farmer

A man with plans for a miniature railway at Astbury has withdrawn the application and described opponents as “whingers”.

But Rob Lomas, of Glebe Farm, has vowed to resubmit a new proposal, saying he was not “giving in”.

Cheshire East Council’s Southern Planning Committee had been recommended to refuse the application for several reasons, one being that the site was on greenbelt land.

The authority received 55 letters of support for the miniature railway and 33 letters of objection.

Mr Lomas pulled the application prior to the meeting on Wednesday, 24th November.

He told the Chronicle afterwards: “At least I know what they’re all whingeing about now.
“When you get planning officers asking it to be refused, I do not stand much of a chance, do I?”

Referring to Odd Rode Coun Liz Wardlaw, who opposed the application because it did not include details of mitigation measures needed to comply with the Astbury and Moreton Neighbourhood Plan, he said: “They don’t want anything by their back door.”

He added: “We will look at the plan again and then they will all start whingeing about it again.”

He said: “It’s not going to damage the environment. It’s a miniature railway. They are making a mountain out of a molehill.”

He has already diversified Glebe Farm where there is now caravan storage, retail units, a café and farm shop.

He said the application for a miniature railway would help him further diversify “in order to become more resilient to poor market conditions.”

Supporters said the railway could help people learn new skills and keep old skills alive and accused opponents in the village as “Nimbys”.

Those who objected, including Astbury Parish Council, were concerned that it would have “unacceptable adverse impacts on the character and appearance of the area”, it would create additional vehicle movements through the village and there would be potential danger to pedestrians as the track would be laid around the perimeter of the current car park.

Mr Lomas said: “They are on about the track crossing a public footpath – the train will only be going at 3mph. People walk across rail lines where trains are doing 120mph.

“We will tidy the application up a bit more, but I am not giving in. I am a fighter. If they want to get the gloves on, I will go to the bitter end.

“I’m a true villager. If I thought it was going to damage the area, I would not do it.

“I do more damage when I’m in the tractor pulling the trailer for the children.”

He added: “I just hope it doesn’t take another 12 months to fight. I put the plans in last December, but it’s kept being delayed and delayed.”

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