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Developing the McClean Way

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by Tony Collins (subscribe)
I am a freelance writer specialising mainly in health and education and living in Staffordshire. Find me on Linked In
Published May 13th 2021
From disused railway to green cycle path and walkway
An area of Staffordshire is looking to go green - by transforming part of a disused former railway line into a new cycle and footpath. A study is due to get underway shortly that could see cyclists and walkers benefitting from a new greenway between the cathedral city of Lichfield and nearby Brownhills. Lichfield District Council is starting work on the project that could result in a mothballed railway track being transformed into a new cycle and footpath linking Brownhills to Lichfield. Working with Network Rail and Sustrans, the national walking and cycling charity, the council will assess a section of the old South Staffordshire Railway line between Lichfield and Brownhills for its potential to reopen as a greenway. This would link Brownhills to Lichfield, continuing the National Cycle Network which runs between Walsall and Brownhills.

South Staffordshire Railway
The greenway will link Brownhills to Lichfield, seen in the background

The new greenway is intended to form an extension of The McClean Way, which is named after John Robinson McClean, the chief engineer who oversaw the construction of the South Staffordshire Railway. The railway initially opened in 1849 and was used for passenger travel and to transport coal and oil. The branch line has since been closed to passenger and freight services, but much of the track still remains. A greenway is a corridor of undeveloped land reserved for recreational use and environmental conservation. A feasibility study will be carried out this summer to understand the scale of the project, likely issues, opportunities, costs and how best to develop it. The findings will be used to draw up a project plan and engage with the local community and partners.

South Staffordshire Railway
Part of the disused South Staffordshire Railway

Councillor Doug Pullen, Leader of the Council, said: "Having seen, back in 2018, the excellent work carried out by the community group Back the Track, who are working to open up part of the disused South Staffordshire Railway between Walsall and the A5 as a leisure greenway, I'm tremendously excited that we are now in a position to explore the development of a greenway from Brownhills to Lichfield. This project presents real opportunities for our health, mental wellbeing, local connectivity and our visitor economy. I'd like to thank Network Rail and Sustrans for their willingness to bring it to life." Councillor Richard Cox, Cabinet Member responsible for Leisure, added: "We're excited to get this project started, as creating a high-quality off-road cycle and footpath will be a great asset for the district. It will connect the National Cycle Network and encourage more of our residents to exercise and commute to work safely."
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Why? New greenway would be a boon for walkers and cyclists
Where: Lichfield to Brownhills
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