Council could 'protect land' for potential extension of Tyne and Wear Metro to Washington, Seaham and Ferryhill
A future extension of the Tyne and Wear Metro could remain a possibility if a major shake-up of planning rules in County Durham is approved.
The prospect of expanding the network south to Washington, Seaham and possibly even as far as Ferryhill, has been raised in long term plans for the service.
And even though work on routes is likely to be years away, bosses at Durham County Council hope their new guidelines for builders and developers will ‘protect’ the land needed for trains to one day run further south.
“The question will be ‘is it deliverable?’,” said Stuart Timmis, the county council’s head of planning.
“We, as a council, couldn’t say we will extend it because it is outside our remit, but we’ve protected the Leamside Line, which is that link into Ferryhill.
“Whether it’s the Metro or a freight line, there’s so many opportunities with the Leamside Line, but it would have to be a government initiative.”
On Tuesday, October 22, a public examination is due to start on the draft County Durham Plan, which is intended to set development policies and priorities in the county until 2035.
Plans to extend the Metro have been discussed for several years, but are yet to get off the drawing board due to a lack of government funding for the scheme.
Key to any expansion of the system however would be the disused Leamside Line, which runs from Tursdale, in County Durham, north through Washington and on to Pelaw, in Gateshead.
Iain Malcolm, South Tyneside Council leader, previously claimed the International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP), under construction in Washington, could be the catalyst needed to add a ‘South Tyne and Wear Loop’ to the network.
Mr Timmis said: “We’re supportive of better transport links and our contribution to this is protecting the Leamside Line.
“With Seaham, because it’s on the border with Sunderland there’s nothing we need to do to protect that, if that came forward we could look at that at the time, we don’t need a plan to make that happen.”
Mike Allum, the county council’s spatial policy manager, added: “All we can do with the Leamside Line is make sure nothing is built over it.”