Saxmundham rail station plans hailed as ‘positive step’ for future regeneration
- Credit: Archant
Community leaders are still hoping a fire-damaged railway station can become a focal point for their town and a linchpin for regeneration.
District councillors are being recommended to approve plans for Saxmundham station to make changes to the structure and make it weatherproof.
This will include removing the rest of the upper storey wrecked by fire to make it single-storey, and to provide waiting facilities for rail travellers within the shell of the fire damaged Victorian station buildings on the "up" London bound platform.
Saxmundham Town Council is against the plans because it does not feel the proposals go far enough - and wants to see a comprehensive redevelopment project planned.
Its Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group has identified the wider station area as a key potential site for regeneration, in which the station building and Greater Anglia site as a whole would form key components.
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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.
The council said: "We are confident that, with appropriate information, consultation and some improvements, an acceptable solution can be found, given the will and a little more time. We are anxious not to let the present awful condition of the station continue for long, but it is worth a little time to get the right design and solution."
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The council's concerns over the current plans include the design, lack of café or shop or toilets, and the small size of the waiting room for a station visited by 3,000 passengers a week.
In a report to East Suffolk Council's planning committee north on October 8, councillors are recommended to approve the changes.
Planning officers feel removing the upper storey is acceptable.
Case officer Chris Green said: "The facilities to be provided at this stage are basic, but are an improvement on the current situation and represent a start to what could be a further development of the station area.
"The basic facilities are therefore a positive step towards achieving policy objectives and the lack of better facilities at this stage are not a reason in planning terms to refuse the application."