TOURISM in the Yorkshire Wolds could be given an added boost if plans to create a heritage railway and visitor centre get the green light.
The Yorkshire Wolds Railway has submitted a planning application to the East Riding of Yorkshire Council for a visitor centre and just under a mile of track on the former Malton to Driffield railway.
The proposed visitor centre would be located on the B1248 road near Wetwang, close to the site of the old Sledmere and Fimber station, which is now a picnic area.
Peter Dymock, Chair of The Yorkshire Wolds Railway, said: “This is an exciting step forward in our plans to reinstate part of the former Driffield to Malton line. “Heritage railways are popular tourist attractions around the country, making a significant contribution to their local economies, and we hope that our project will play a similar role for East Yorkshire.
“The local roads are well used by people heading to places like York, Scarborough, Eden Camp and the North Yorkshire Moors, and if our project can persuade some of those people to spend a little more time in the Wolds then that can only be of benefit to local businesses and tourist attractions.”
The plans are open for consultation until March 16, and members of the project have urged local businesses and residents to write to the Council in support of the plans.
If planning permission is granted, a car park and wooden railway platform will be built, enabling visitors to access carriages and vans sited on a short length of track.
These will contain exhibitions about the history of the line and the plans for the future.
The Railway has secured £40,000 of funding from the European Union LEADER fund which has paid for a professional feasibility study and will contribute towards the cost of the visitor centre.
The group have to match that with a further £40,000 and are waiting until planning permission is secured before finalising further funding bids.
If given the go ahead the centre, which is the first phase of the project, could be completed by the end of next March.
The operational track, heading towards Wetwang, will be the second phase and will be built once further funding is secured.
The Yorkshire Wolds Railway Project Group was formed in 2008 - some 50 years after the closure of the Driffield to Malton Railway.
The Project’s Annual General Meeting will take place tonight (March 8) from 7.30pm at Driffield Community Centre. All members are invited and new members are welcome to join on the night.