Bid to repair fire-hit Saxmundham station given go-ahead
A fire-ravaged railway station building is to be refurbished for community use.
Saxmundham station, which opened in 1862, was destroyed by fire in February 2018 after being vacant for several years, which led to the demolition of the building's second storey.
Now, plans to remove the fire-damaged, unstable first floor, as well as making the building weatherproof, have been given the green light, with councillors unanimously approving the plans submitted by Greater Anglia at a meeting of East Suffolk Council's planning committee on Wednesday, October 8.
Speaking at the meeting on behalf of the East Suffolk Travellers Association, Trevor Garrod said: "When part of the building was destroyed by fire we feared the remainder would be demolished and replaced by a shelter.
"We emphatically support the proposal and want to see it happen. Our concern is that work should start as soon as is practical and rail users can have a safe and secure space to wait for their train.
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"As rail users, it would be quite unacceptable that any further delay should happen to this refurbishment."
Members of the planning committee were, however, told to ignore Mr Garrod's comments as he had registered to speak at Wednesday's meeting as an objector.
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Saxmundham Town Council, however, were against the plans because it felt the proposals do not go far enough, calling for a comprehensive redevelopment project.
The council has written to Greater Anglia and Network Rail to offer full co-operation in assessing the potential for the area, which would bring economic, social and environmental benefits.
Once refurbished, the building, which is currently inaccessible, will be aimed at community use.
Councillor Tony Goldson said: "I love the words 'community use', I just hope it will be sustained.
"Somewhere in that site there should be a toilet block for the public and members of staff coming and going."
Councillor Graham Elliott said: "We need to make sure that big building is put to community use.
"We need to move on from the dreadful state of the last few years.
"I think this is about as good as we are going to get."