CAMPAIGNERS for a rail initiative to link Evesham and north Cotswold areas direct by rail to Birmingham are hoping a controversial planning application could move a step closer.

Proposals to build a new 3,100 home development and relief road at Long Marston look set to open the door to around 5,900 new homes being built in the area before 2030.

But the Shakespeare Line Promotion Group (SLPG),representing rail users between Stratford upon Avon and Birmingham including Evesham, objected to the plans along with over 1,000 others - pointing out references were made to reopening a disused railway, which hasn't come to fruition.

Fraser Pithie, secretary of the SLPG group, said: “When the local authorities and planning applicant bid to get Garden Village status from the HM Government in 2016, they made over a dozen references to reopening the railway between Honeybourne and Stratford upon Avon.

"The bid succeeded and Garden Village status was gained. However, the planning applications that are now before planners make no mention of sustainable transport and the railway. It’s simply unacceptable the potential of reopening a disused rail corridor was used to attract Garden Village status and HM Government funding and having been successful it is then dropped altogether.”

SLPG has now written to James Brokenshire, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, requesting he call both planning applications in. SLPG along with the Cotswold Line Promotion Group have long called for the disused rail line linking Honeybourne, on the Cotswold Line, with Stratford upon Avon, to reopen making 60-minute journeys between Evesham and Birmingham a reality.

Mr Pithie added “We want a full economic impact study done that would determine the viability of reopening the railway. If reopened it could provide a direct 45 minute journey by rail between the new homes at Long Marston but also open up the Vale of Evesham. Currently Evesham to Birmingham by rail requires a change at Worcester and the journey takes just under two hours."