The Lichfield District Local Plan
Future Rail Service for Burntwood Town
Consultation response by the Lichfield Civic Society

Q4. Do you consider that the Local Plan Strategy is justified? - No

It is welcomed that the Walsall - Lichfield Rail Line is safeguarded (there are several references to this in the transport section on pages 46 and 47) and general policies support modal shift etc. but the link between re-opening this line and generating opportunities for rail travel from Burntwood has not been picked up.

In the Infrastructure Delivery Plan (IDP) of July 2012 on page 55 is a list of priorities for Burntwood identified by Burntwood Town Council which includes:-

"Improvements to public transport access (see also strategic infrastructure) including improved bus networks and reopening of the Walsall-Lichfield rail link and delivery of a station at Burntwood;"

Page 30 of the IDP includes a long term proposal to "Reopen line from Walsall to Lichfield via Brownhills and Burntwood: initially freight and then passenger services, to include delivering a station at Burntwood."

The Local Plan Strategy in setting the strategic context should give a clear policy commitment to the long term proposal in the Infrastructure Delivery Plan to provide a station at Burntwood with proper access and car parking facilities.

In terms of justification the Local Plan says:

"Although the availability of a frequent rail service from Lichfield via the cross-city rail line allows a degree of rail commuting, journey to work movements from the District are largely made by car" [Spatial Portrait of District, paragraph 2.4, page 11]

This is misleading as there are two distinct major population centres in the District and these should be considered separately when referring to transport flows. The 'Travel to Work' tables of the 2001 Census show that Lichfield City has (at 4.9%) one of the highest levels of rail commuting of any comparable town in the West Midlands Region. In contrast Burntwood, which does not have a nearby railhead, has (at 1.1%) one of the lowest. Earlier data from the 1991 Census (Special Workplace Statistics) shows that much higher proportion of Burntwood residents work in Walsall or the Black Country compared to Lichfield City residents; suggesting that re-opening the former Lichfield-Burntwood-Walsall rail line to passengers with a new station at or near Burntwood would result in a significant modal shift.

Developing new opportunities for rail travel from Burntwood is clearly aligned with section 3 of the plan - Vision; specifically Strategic Priorities in paragraph 3.3, page 19.

Q7. Please set out what change(s) you consider necessary to address your representations.

The addition of a paragraph to Burntwood Policy 2 in section 14 Burntwood on page 108 with the following words or words to a similar effect:-

Burntwood is one of the largest towns in England without a rail connection and residents currently have to travel by road to either Cannock or Lichfield. Re-opening the Walsall - Lichfield rail line for passengers will offer the opportunity to provide a new station for the residents of Burntwood, thereby opening up employment opportunities in Walsall and Birmingham and making a significant contribution to modal shift. The location of a new station should ensure good access links from Burntwood for pedestrians, the disabled, cyclists and vehicles, and the provision of adequate parking facilities for users.

Q8. Did you raise this issue earlier in the plan preparation process? - Yes

The potential value of a new station at Burntwood was discussed in a meeting with Council Officers in October 2007 and the memorandum was also enclosed with the formal response from Lichfield Rail Promotion Group to the Core Strategy in January 2009.

Q10. If you wish to participate at the examination in public, please outline why you consider this to be necessary.

The respondent who is the contact for the Society on this issue has made a close study of the potential case for re-opening the Lichfield - Walsall line and advised Walsall Council in the preparation of their "Walsall Rail Service and Facility Development Plan" in 2007 which refers to the line.

Peter Cousins
Executive Committee Member,
Lichfield Civic Society.
September, 2012