PLANS have been submitted for a massive restoration and development of the Buckley Wells locomotive and carriage works site, home of the East Lancashire Light Railway.

The East Lancashire Light Railway Company and the ELR Trust have set out their vision for the site in plans lodged with Bury Council.

The intend a comprehensive programme of restoration and repair to the grade II listed Buckley Wells Locomotive Works and carriage shed building, just south of Bury town centre, which currently houses the locomotive engineering restoration and maintenance for the ELR.

They also plan a new locomotive running shed and heavy maintenance workshop on the site of the original Buckley Wells engine shed which was demolished by British Rail in the 1970s.

Other developments include a new green energy carriage shed, an amended track layout for rail access to the proposed new buildings, new vehicle access routes and designated parking areas for full time staff and volunteers.

A design and access statement with the plans prepared by Equilibrium Architects Ltd sets out the importance of the railway to Bury and the region.

It said: “The East Lancashire Railway is the award-winning premier visitor and heritage attraction in the borough of Bury and the wider Irwell Valley in Rossendale, attracting more than 200,000 visitors a year, and has its main workshop facilities located within Bury at Buckley Wells.

“The Buckley Wells locomotive and carriage works houses over 250 heritage locos, carriages and wagons, and forms the essential locomotive and carriage operational, maintenance and restoration facilities necessary to successfully operate the rail services and events on the heritage railway.

“In brief the proposals are designed to secure a managed expansion and enhancement of the operational, maintenance and restoration capacity of the site in order for further managed growth as a premier visitor and heritage attraction on a long-term sustainable basis.”

In recent years the ELR has also developed its stations including improving the food and drink offer, erecting new platform canopies at Bolton Street, Ramsbottom and Rossendale Stations, and securing planning consent for redevelopment of Rawtenstall station as the northern terminus of the line.

The report adds that should the development be approved it would help attract ‘guest locomotives’ to the line.

It said: “Improvements at stations alone can only go so far in sustaining the growth in visitor numbers.

“At the core of this unique visitor experience are the historic locomotives and carriages that form the trains operating on the 12 miles of the line.

“The ability to operate and maintain its fleet of historic locomotives and carriage stock to an extremely high standard, together with an improved ability to attract prestige guest locomotives such as Flying Scotsman, Sir Nigel Gresley and Tornado is now the limiting factor on whether the ELR will be able to sustain its growth in visitor numbers over the longer term.

The application will be decided by Bury’s planning committee at a date to be decided.