The First Step
With planning now agreed, the Churnet Valley Railway was able to create a definitive plan for re-instatement. However, officially the land is still owned by Staffordshire Moorlands District Council and so a formal access agreement and lease is required before physical works can commence. Never the less, not all of the extension is SMDC owned, as the first 200 metres from the current railhead over the sewage crossing to the former sand sidings headshunt is owned by the CVR.
With this in mind, as a statement of intent, the CVR did a costing exercise that estimated £40,000 would enable this first length to be re-instated with new sleepers and ballast, plus second-hand rails.
The Railway was able to put up £21,000 (in track materials) immediately, and SMDC very kindly followed this up with a grant of £19,000 to cover the shortfall, reallocating unused funds reserved for developments elsewhere. Earthworks on this section began in September 2019 and trackwork installed in early October ready for an official opening of the initial section by SMDC Lead Councillor Sybil Ralphs, which took place on Friday 11th October. Following on from this, ad-hoc specials will be organised to assist with promoting and showcasing the "Reconnect Leek" project to interested parties and stakeholders.