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Planning Permission for 7 1/4 railway


Joined: 1-11-08

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Posted: Fri 7th May 2010, 9:38pm
Planning Permission for 7 1/4 railway

Has anyone applied for planning permission for a 7 1/4" railway in a field near a house or cottage? Are there precidents? What are the issues that need to be addressed? Is it a change of use? Is permission necessary? Is it likely to receive approval etc??
I am just about to embark on this process and could do with some experiance of members please. Michael

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Joined: 9-08-09

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Posted: Sun 9th May 2010, 9:46am

My clun applied for planning on private land that had been used commercially in the past as a garden. They would not give permission for "public" us only bone fide model engineers and restricted times of us to 10 - 4.00 They charge rates which we got reduce by 50% on appeal.All buildings had to comply with planning and building regs apart from 5ft high carriage sheds.

However if you only want to use it privately I would imagine you would only need to check that neighbours are happy. Ours has never stopped complaining about smoke, whistles, horns and that we also had to create a 10ft high fence so he could't see anything of us!! Even an embankment needed approval.

Good luck

Frank Cooper Evergreens Miniature Railway


Joined: 1-01-95

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Replies: 28

Posted: Sun 9th May 2010, 10:57am

Hello Michael
This question is sometimes raised when the gate has been closed after the horse has bolted! Earth works, track laying, perhaps structures etc. started without having thoroughly investigated how an INDIVIDUAL site (or part thereof) may be subject to local and national planning rules, could lead to all sorts of problems. Assessing your own particular circumstances in more detail should guide you towards a (hopefully) hazard-free outcome. For example, are you the owner, official tenant or lessee of the land? What is the current designated use of the land (e.g. domestic garden, commercial garden, meadow, woodland, agricultural etc.)? What is the intended purpose of your railway (e.g. private leisure, club, semi-commercial/commercial)? Are neighbours likely to be 'friendly' towards your proposals? Do you intend to simply lay track on the existing terrain, or would you envisage earthworks or other scenic effects (e.g. buildings etc)? Different combinations of the above circumstances would require different routes of consideration. It may take a little time to realise 'that dream' but a carefully considered approach to any applicable planning issues could be the 'stitch in time that saves nine'!!
Please feel free to contact me privately if you wish to discuss further implications based on the above information - my contact details appear elsewhere on this website or inside front cover of the 'News'.
Kind Regards
Frank Sidebottom
Committee Member/Trade Liaison Officer


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Posted: Sat 15th May 2010, 10:34am

My advice would be go and talk to the local planning office, they are usually very helpful if you can explain what it is you want to do, and will point you in the right direction. Don't go with only half the story though think out what you need beforehand.


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Posted: Wed 6th Oct 2010, 4:30pm

I have just approached my local planning office in relation to this. I have been offered a small plot of land which is currently used for agricultural / grazing to lay a small amount of Pway down on. I have told the local authority that it would be just for pleasure with no commercial use. It would require very little work and when down would hardly be noticeable. The land is in the middle of nowhere with no neighbours and just a few horses.

This has been emailed to at least five people and answers seem few and far between. I dont want to spend £15k on the land to be told no.

Anyone have any ideas how I could progress it further.




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Posted: Thu 21st Oct 2010, 7:51pm

I am a great believer in don't ask then they can't refuse. The only time I applied for permission was to build my house. I've kept pigs & poultry run a fibreglass factory for 20 years building canoes & fibreglass Minis. In 98 I laid my railway & since then I've built 16 steam engines & 1 diesel No complaints so no bother. Eric Walker.


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Posted: Sun 31st Oct 2010, 7:32pm

Dear All,

There are Planning Rules that you must abide by. Firstly let me state that for the past twenty years or so I have professionaly through my company been applying for planning applications, for both private individuals and local authorities, and have had success and very few failures. I also serve on my local councils planning committee as its current chairman. I have on file a letter which clearly states that you can build a miniature railway within the curtlidge of your property. That means your garden that surrounds your house. Not the adjoining land ie a paddock. If you wanted to go into the paddock that would require planning permission. It also throws up another senario, is the land registered for agriculture, if so it needs two applications, one for change of use, secondly for the purpose you which to use it for ie build your railway. If it is a parcel of land that is a distance from your normal residence, your fist call before starting any work on site, is to check with the adjoining neighbours to seek there views. ( I am aware of a situation were work started on site, the neighbours found out what was going on and reported it to the local planning enforcment department. Who in turn wrote to the landowner and the person carrying out the work to build a railway. Stating that planning permission was required and placed an enforcment notice to stop work until permission is granted.)
With advice to Rich, you do not need to be the owner of the land to apply for planning permission. If the owner is willing to sell to you, state that you wish to purchase subject to obtaining planning permission. on the planning application forms there is a box / certificate that requires completing stating ownership. You then have to fill in the certificate and serve notice on the owner ( who you are already negotiating with ) your intention to apply for planning permission. No great problem takes 8 to 12 weeks and you will have an answere, in my area this will cost you £340 The application is made as an Engineering Work. By doing it this way in the first instance all it will cost is the application fee, if you are successful you then go ahead and purchase the land.
A warning to all though, councils now use areial scanning via planes and helicopters and I know from experience of three railways that were picked up and retrospective applications had to be made. In one case it was refused, went to appeal and was rejected by the goverment inspector with no right to appeal. A enforcemnt notice was issued and the railway had to be lifted.

If any one requires advice please contact me.
Roger Greatrex 858.


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Posted: Tue 16th Nov 2010, 10:42pm

Im 100ft from Houses, Green belt, watercourses and also on phase 3 of railway development & the quagmire that is planning permission. Being my third set of plans. First two went through without a hitch! and this one is just under 1 mile of track extensions.

Feel free to contact me directly

but my top tip is!

Be prepared before contacting planning, and stand your ground. but before any submission make sure you have the planning officer on site first! Even if they say no, demand it!


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Posted: Thu 18th Nov 2010, 4:16pm

Just a note to Andy. The Planning Officer cannot refuse to visit the site pre-application. Under the Application for Planning Permission. Town and Country Planning Act 1990. Item 5 on the standard application form referes to Pre-application Advice. In this box there is space to record the officers name and advice given. They are duty bound to visit a site if requested.

Regards Roger Greatrex.


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Posted: Sun 21st Nov 2010, 8:31pm

Thanks Roger.
I know they are Duty bound, But what they are obliged to do, and what they tell you are completely different things!
I had to do plenty of homework (like 2am reading) before I got anywhere with High Legh. Found out on Friday our planning will go through pretty smoothly. Fingers crossed please!


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Posted: Sun 12th Dec 2010, 9:29pm

Hiya all A little update from me.
I've come home from a tiring day at High Legh to find an unreserved granting to my Planning Application for 2011!

And on a sunday too!!!
go to planning application ans search for 10/3075m for info.



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Posted: Thu 16th Dec 2010, 7:04am

I expect they've changed the rules since the 1970s, but a legal precedent was set in the 1970s and reported in a Model Engineer that planning permission was not required to build a live steam railway in your garden. A chap in Birmingham went to court over the matter and won.
It might be worth trying to unearth this legal ruling to see if it's of any use.
It would still be worth talking to the neighbours about your plans. We all like to be asked or consulted rather than taken for granted.
Of course, with 7 1/4"gauge and railways of greater length and complexity, it could be that the 1970 precedent in not applicable - I think the ruling related to a 5" G railway on piers.

All the preceding entries on this subject are full of good advice and warnings, though.

Jack Meatcher


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Posted: Sun 13th Feb 2011, 5:54pm

Hiya Slowcoach

Can you or does anyone of the membership? know about the case your referring to?

This could be something that would make a great "library" resource for members in the future.

Peter Beevers

Joined: 9-10-01

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Posted: Mon 14th Feb 2011, 8:03am

Beware of this - yes, a railway in your garden for personal use does not require planning permission. BUT:
1) You neighbours may complain about the noise, disturbance etc.
2) If you use it very often, or if you regularly have lots of visitors who park cars everywhere then you neighbours may claim that you have changed the use of the property so require you to get planning permission.
So - talk with your neighbours first!!


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Posted: Mon 14th Feb 2011, 2:41pm

hi, vaporistes,

I think Peter is very wise. English law, particularly in planning issues, often centres on what constitutes a nuisance. The fact remains that next door's swimming pool,with jolly children and their friends, coupled with regular mowing of the garden with an ancient asthmatic lawnmower might be seen as natural, but it can be a nuisance. As an aside, our little railway here of less than 300m skirts, on two sides - about 100 linear metres - our neighbouring farmer's arable fields, separated by a wire fence. He and our neighbours may think us a little unusual, gardening by train, but I wouldn't dream of lighting up TINKER whilst the crops (sunflowers, winter wheat, colza and so on) are ripe. Anyone who has seen the sparks from a working engine on a night run must consider my situation a possible danger. So out with the diesel!

Best wishes from Malcolm and Jan in SW France
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