Somerset’s newest railway station could be up and running by May 2025 – though the government won’t make a final ruling on the matter for at least a year. Somerset West and Taunton Council has been working with Mid Devon District Council on plans to reopen Wellington and Cullompton railway stations, which both closed during the infamous Beeching cuts of the mid-1960s.

The push to reopen both stations received a £5m boost in the government’s autumn budget in October 2021, meaning the proposals could move to the next stage of government assessment in the form of a detailed final business case. The council has now confirmed the Wellington business case will be submitted by Network Rail to the Department for Transport (DfT) – but not until Christmas 2023.

This announcement follows a consultation by West of England Developments (Taunton) Ltd. on plans to deliver more than 200 homes near the proposed site of the new station. Councillor Mike Rigby, portfolio holder for economic development, planning and transportation, provided a brief update when the full council met in Taunton on Tuesday evening (December 6).

He said in his written report: “We continue to work with Network Rail, GWR and other stakeholders through the working group, steering group and senior stakeholder forum.

“The current programme for delivery of the station sets out the final business case to be complete by December 2023, and the station to be up and running by May 2025.

“Recent work commissioned by Network Rail has confirmed the precise location of the station at Longforth Farm.”

The Longforth Farm site was allocated in the Taunton Deane Local Plan for delivering 900 new homes in Wellington, along with employment land, a northern relief road and a new primary school. Bloor Homes was granted outline permission in 2013 to build 503 homes on part of the site in three phases – the last of which was given detailed planning permission in 2018.

The Local Plan originally envisioned that the town’s two biggest employers, Relyon and Swallowfield, would wish to relocate to new premises within the Longforth Farm site.

However, neither company indicated that it wished to locate, allowing Lidl to begin construction of a new supermarket on Nynehead Road after planning permission was granted in January.

Under West of England Developments’ proposals – which were subject to public consultation in August – the new railway station would be accessed from Nynenead Road, with the access road to the supermarket being extended to the station and a car park through a new housing estate.

This estate would comprise up to 220 new homes, along with a care home and designated employment space, with a new park being provided south of the station car park and pedestrian and cycling links being provided from Lillebonne Way and Taunton Road.

To improve road safety, Nynehead Road would be separated from the station access road through a new T-junction, allowing safe access to the Cadeside Caravan and Motorhome Club. Detailed plans for this development are expected to be submitted before Christmas, with the council (or its unitary successor) due to make a ruling on them in early-2023.