A major milestone has been reached for the future development of the Leighton Buzzard Railway (LBR), as the team moves a step closer to an extension of the track.
Following intricate negotiations with Arnold White Estates (AWE), existing owners of part of the land on which the railway operates, the sections of the track bed which were owned by LBR have been sold to AWE in a leaseback arrangement raising vital funds for the volunteer-operated railway.
All of the AWE-owned track bed, including most of the Page’s Park Station site with its award-winning new building, has been leased back to LBR at a peppercorn rent for the next 250 years.
Included in the lease is the land for the Munday’s Hill extension, which was a requirement of the successful bid for the EU LEADER funding last year.
Terry Bendall, chairman of LeightonBuzzard Narrow Gauge Railway, said: “Obviously, we are feeling very pleased.
“We owned some parts of the track and we have sold that to AWE. Some parts are still owned by Central Bedfordshire Council and some parts of it are in private ownership, but the bulk of it was already owned by AWE.
“We have a target of £150,000 and the money from the sale of the track will help go towards that.”
In addition, a short-term licence was agreed for a storage area for materials needed for the extension, including the first 2,000ft of track which arrived last month.
Meanwhile, money generated from the sale and leaseback will be used for further development at LBR, some of which has already been earmarked for the tree clearance needed to allow extension work to be completed.
Terry added: “We have actually done quite a lot of clearance of vegetation, because that had to be done before nesting season.”
The project still needs to raise around £87,000.