Express & Star

Popular footpath along disused railway in line for improvements

A former railway which has become a popular walking route may be on track for a overhaul if a planned scheme gets the green light.

Last updated
McClean Way footpath links Brownhillls and Pelsall

Outdoor pursuits charity Sustrans has put forward proposals to make the route between Brownhills and Pelsall, known as McClean Way, near Walsall, more accessible for walkers, cyclists and wheelers.

The disused rail bed which is maintained by voluntary group Back The Track is used by walkers and cyclists. Under the plans it would be laid in a sealed surface with new access ramps, drainage works, landscaping and benches.

But issues such as drainage problems which can cause water-logging and a lack of access points prevent many people including those with wheelchairs and mobility scooters from being able to use it.

Sustrans said their plans would help create a continuous ‘high quality greenway’ between the two communities.

Walsall Council planning officers are currently considering the proposal and are expected to make a decision on it in December.

Sustrans stated: “There is potential to continue the high-quality greenway along the railway alignment between Pelsall and Brownhills, creating a continuous off-road walking, wheeling and cycling route all the way from Walsall to Brownhills.

“The route is an informal permissive path already used by walkers and cyclists and benefits from the support and maintenance of a local volunteer group (Back the Track).

“However, the path is not high-quality – it is currently unsealed and suffers from drainage issues, often becoming waterlogged and impassable in places, and is not accessible for all users due to limited access points, barriers and steep gradients.

“Sustrans is proposing to formalise the route as a sealed surface shared use greenway, in line with LTN 1/20 standards. The proposals will enhance the greenway’s usage potential and allow for a more inclusive and accessible environment for all to enjoy the benefits of walking, cycling, and wheeling as a mode of transport or for recreation."

The proposals are part of efforts to increase levels of active travel, improve road safety, improve air quality, health and wellbeing, and links the wider public right of way and green infrastructure network.

The path is named after a former co-owner of the Cannock Chase Colliery Company John Robinson McLean. It follows a section of the former South Staffordshire railway line that opened in about 1849 for passenger travel and coal and oil trains. It was closed in the 1960s.