Agenda item

QUEENSBURY TUNNEL

Queensbury tunnel is a disused railway tunnel constructed in the 1870’s situated between Bradford and Halifax which passes directly beneath Queensbury.  The tunnel is approximately 2.3km in length and formed from masonry and brick arches which span some 8 metres. At its deepest the tunnel is 115 metres below the surface.

 

The Strategic Director Place will submit a report (Document “AW”) which outlines the key implications to the Council of taking over the ownership and responsibility for the tunnel to facilitate its ultimate conversion to a leisure cycling facility connecting Bradford and Halifax.

 

Recommended –

 

(1)       That Executive commend the work of Queensbury Tunnel Society in bringing forward the work which has been done to date to identify the issues and risks associated with the conversion of Queensbury Tunnel to a leisure cycling facility as well as their advocacy of the benefits of such a scheme to stakeholders.

 

(2)       That Executive fully recognise and support the benefits in saving the tunnel for the enjoyment of future generations and that its potential conversion to a leisure cycling facility connecting Bradford city centre and Halifax town centres.

 

(3)       That Executive acknowledge that the offer of Historic Railways Estate to transfer ownership of the tunnel to the Council, together with the residual of any unspent abandonment funding, as a dowry for its future maintenance is an interesting proposition.  But, given the indicative repair costs and funding gap identified for the stabilisation works, Executive reluctantly confirm that it is currently unable to agree to the proposed transfer of ownership.

 

(4)       That the Strategic Director of Place in consultation with the Portfolio Holder continue to lobby Highways England / HRE to delay their abandonment works to allow the Council and its partners time to explore further potential sources of funding for the scheme through development of an advocacy document.

 

Overview and Scrutiny Committee: Regeneration and Environment

 

(Richard Gelder - 01274 437603)

Decision:

Resolved –

 

(1)       That Executive commend the work of Queensbury Tunnel Society in bringing forward the work which has been done to date to identify the issues and risks associated with the conversion of Queensbury Tunnel to a leisure cycling facility as well as their advocacy of the benefits of such a scheme to stakeholders.

 

(2)       That Executive fully recognises and supports the benefits in saving the tunnel for the enjoyment of future generations and that its potential conversion to a leisure cycling facility connecting Bradford city centre and Halifax town centres.

 

(3)       That Executive acknowledges that the offer of Historic Railways Estate to transfer ownership of the tunnel to the Council, together with the residual of any unspent abandonment funding, as a dowry for its future maintenance is an interesting proposition.  But, given the indicative repair costs and funding gap identified for the stabilisation works, Executive reluctantly confirms that it is currently unable to agree to the proposed transfer of ownership.

 

(4)       That the Strategic Director of Place in consultation with the Portfolio Holder continue to lobby Highways England / HRE to delay their abandonment works to allow the Council and its partners time to explore further potential sources of funding for the scheme through development of an advocacy document.

 

Overview and Scrutiny Committee: Regeneration and Environment

 

(Richard Gelder - 01274 437603)

 

 

Minutes:

Queensbury tunnel is a disused railway tunnel constructed in the 1870’s situated between Bradford and Halifax which passes directly beneath Queensbury.  The tunnel is approximately 2.3km in length and formed from masonry and brick arches which span some 8 metres. At its deepest the tunnel is 115 metres below the surface.

 

The Strategic Director Place submitted a report (Document “AW”) which outlined the key implications to the Council of taking over the ownership and responsibility for the tunnel to facilitate its ultimate conversion to a leisure cycling facility connecting Bradford and Halifax.

 

The Highways Services Engineer explained in detail the options as well as the funding requirements and opportunities for the scheme which were detailed in the report.

 

A Member of the Queensbury Tunnel Society was present at the meeting and stated that the Tunnel was the longest underground tunnel route in the country and that the Society and the people of Queensbury fully appreciated the financial constraints, however they were encouraged by the Council’s mind set to explore the different possibilities.  She added that the Society were keen to work with the Council and that the development potential of the tunnel concurred with Bradford’s Local Plan, and that it would be transformational for Bradford and for future generations.  That it would improve connectivity, reduce congestion on the Bradford South and Halifax routes, as well as reduce air pollution and bring immense health benefits to those who would use it as a cycle route. The heritage value of Queensbury tunnel was also alluded to.  She welcomed the conversations the Council was having with Highways England and that despite the reports around the condition of the tunnel this could be rectified and abandonment would only increase the risk of subsidence and accelerate the decay, and she urged Members to actively pursue the opportunities for the scheme and safeguard the tunnel from abandonment.

 

A Ward Councillor for the area was present at the meeting and stated that the tunnel provided Bradford with a huge economic and leisure potential, and would encourage tourism, and he urged that all possibilities be explored to save it from abandonment.

 

The Leader of the opposition group was also present and in echoing the above sentiments, stated that we owed it to the people who built the tunnel, many of them who sadly lost their lives in its construction, to keep and develop the tunnel for future generations.

 

The Regeneration, Planning and Transport Portfolio Holder stated that he understood the passion and the potential the development of the tunnel could afford to the people of Queensbury and the wider district, and he affirmed that the Council would work with partners to try and secure the necessary funding for the project.

 

Resolved –

 

(1)       That Executive commend the work of Queensbury Tunnel Society in bringing forward the work which has been done to date to identify the issues and risks associated with the conversion of Queensbury Tunnel to a leisure cycling facility as well as their advocacy of the benefits of such a scheme to stakeholders.

 

(2)       That Executive fully recognises and supports the benefits in saving the tunnel for the enjoyment of future generations and that its potential conversion to a leisure cycling facility connecting Bradford city centre and Halifax town centres.

 

(3)       That Executive acknowledges that the offer of Historic Railways Estate to transfer ownership of the tunnel to the Council, together with the residual of any unspent abandonment funding, as a dowry for its future maintenance is an interesting proposition.  But, given the indicative repair costs and funding gap identified for the stabilisation works, Executive reluctantly confirms that it is currently unable to agree to the proposed transfer of ownership.

 

(4)       That the Strategic Director of Place in consultation with the Portfolio Holder continue to lobby Highways England / HRE to delay their abandonment works to allow the Council and its partners time to explore further potential sources of funding for the scheme through development of an advocacy document.

 

Overview and Scrutiny Committee: Regeneration and Environment

 

 

 

Supporting documents: