Bennerley Viaduct restoration plans: Sustrans decide not to make a second bid for HLF funding

Following the great disappointment at the decision last December by the Heritage Lottery Fund not to approve the Sustrans funding bid, despite the extensive support it attracted, there has now been further great disappointment, especially from the Friends of Bennerley Viaduct, at the news that Sustrans have decided, after careful consideration, not to resubmit a second funding bid to the HLF.

Below are the relevant statements from Sustrans and Railway Paths Limited, an associated organisation, as circulated on 8 February 2018 by Dave Clasby from Sustrans:-

“Sustrans have decided not to resubmit a second bid to HLF, as explained in these statements from Railway Paths Limited (RPL) and Sustrans . Sustrans and RPL have said that they now need to rethink their strategy as to how to bring this amazing structure back into use as a walking and cycling route.”

Railway Paths Limited’s statement on the future of the Bennerley Viaduct

“As the owner and custodian of the Bennerley Viaduct we were disappointed that a bid to restore and open up the viaduct as a walking and cycling route was not successful in winning a Heritage Lottery Fund grant. We are also disappointed that Sustrans will not be resubmitting the bid but understand the reasons behind the decision.

We remain committed to this viaduct and would like to see it opened as a walking and cycling route. The Railway Paths Limited Board is meeting next week and will be discussing options for the future of the viaduct together with Sustrans. We are keen to build on the local support for the viaduct that has been generated to date as we see this as being key to the successful development of the project.”

Will Haynes, Principal Officer of Railway Paths Limited

Sustrans’ statement on the future of the Bennerley Viaduct

“Sustrans has been working to restore and open up a multi-million pound project Bennerley Viaduct as a walking and cycling route for over three years. In August 2017, as part of this work, we applied for a large grant from Heritage Lottery Fund (HFL), for which we were turned down in December 2017.

Although the HLF board considered the project to be a strong one, the bid was not successful, as it was not considered to provide the same level of outcomes and values for money as competing applications. Despite the outcomes, the HLF said they would welcome a revised application.

In January 2018, after careful consideration, Sustrans made a decision not to re-submit the application in its current form to the HFL for the following reasons:

  • The financial risk to Sustrans posed by the match funding requirement of almost £2m.
  • The continued investment of staff and cash resources both in developing the re-submission and, if successful, the Stage 1 proposal.
  • Bennerley Viaduct is not part of the National Cycle Network which requires significant investment across the UK. We are currently reviewing the Network and identifying investment priorities which makes prioritising a large single site project that is not connected to the National Cycle Network hard to justify at this stage Sustrans is exploring a number of options for the future of the viaduct, working with the owner of Bennerley, Railway Paths Limited. We are committed to working with the local community and recognise their ongoing support as being key to the successful development of Bennerley”

Xavier Brice, CEO Sustrans.