Fire-hit railway station changes ‘unsuitable’, claims council

Firefighters tackle a blaze at Saxmundham railway station Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Firefighters tackle a blaze at Saxmundham railway station Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Changes to a Suffolk railway station which was destroyed by fire are being opposed by council chiefs.

Rail operator Greater Anglia has submitted plans to East Suffolk Council to have Saxmundham railway station re-developed into a single storey building.

As it stands, the proposals suggest the building would be re-modelled inside to provide a waiting area, ticket station and other areas for railway station staff.

Renovation work is also proposed for the exterior of the building, including its canopy and brick clad facade.

A public meeting was held by the council on Monday to gather people's views on the matter.

It was followed by an extraordinary council meeting.

In a letter to East Suffolk Council, Saxmundham Town Council chair Jeremy Smith said: "Saxmundham Town Council welcomes the opportunity to discuss with Abellio Greater Anglia the redevelopment of Saxmundham Station and, in particular the wider area around the station.

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"We also fully share the objective of an early, well-designed station Building for Saxmundham and will work constructively towards it.

"The town council nevertheless has serious concerns about the current application and therefore opposes it."

Among the main concerns raised by the council are the lack of community or passenger-serving uses in the building such as a cafe or a shop.

The council would also prefer to see more shelter and seating at the station's second platform as well as toilets somewhere in the station.

More widely, there were also claims that the proposed building could fail to "do justice to the history and heritage of the previous building".

The council outlined that it considered "as a design necessity, a two storey building is required, without undue additional costs".

A spokesman for Greater Anglia said previously: "We are working to improve Saxmundham railway station after it was badly damage following a fire last year. We hope to carry out improvements including a new waiting room, repair works to both platforms and resurfacing the car park. We have recently submitted plans to East Suffolk Council to install a new roof, windows and doors at Saxmundham station, to make the building weather proof."