Campaigners who want a rail line to be reopened between York and Hull say a decision over the region’s planning blueprint is “devastating” for the scheme.
East Riding of Yorkshire Council has not included the route through Stamford Bridge, Pocklington, Market Weighton and Beverley in its Local Plan, which outlines how the area will be developed up to 2029, saying there is no guarantee the project could be delivered during that time.
The Minsters’ Rail Campaign said not safeguarding land for the line – which closed in 1965 – would mean houses being built on it instead, escalating costs and less chance of it being reopened, with its chairman George McManus criticising the lack of council support.
Coun Symon Fraser, the authority’s portfolio holder for environment, housing and planning, said he wanted the scheme to happen, but it could now cost about £350 million and was not currently feasible.
The Local Plan decision was made at a council meeting this week at which campaigners protested, and Mr McManus said: “It’s a devastating blow, and it’s also devastating to hear councillors talk about the line in terms of something which might happen in 30 or 40 years.
“Future generations are being let down, and if development is allowed along the identified route for the line, the costs will rise. The message this sends to the public and potential investors is that the council does not believe this will happen in our lifetime.”
The council said the Local Plan could only include schemes classed as “deliverable” by 2029, and as the rail line did not meet this criteria, its inclusion could mean the plan being deemed “unsound” by the Government. It said it believed the A1079 could accommodate extra traffic stemming from new housing if improvements are made.
Coun Fraser said that if the line could be funded in the future an alternative route could be assessed, but the council could not allow it to “inhibit” development around major towns. He said: “I would like to see the line reinstated, in the right place, at a time when we can afford it, but if we could get £350 million of Government funding, I feel our focus should be on flood protection.
“The line is a great idea - it is just not a great idea at the moment.”