Survey results to shape plans for ‘unsightly’ fire-damaged rail station

Firefighters tackling the blaze at Saxmundham train station. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Firefighters tackling the blaze at Saxmundham train station. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Rail officials have met with a travellers’ group to discuss its “great concern” at the progress in dealing with damage caused by a fire at Saxmundham station.

ESTA – East Suffolk Travellers’ Association – wrote to Network Rail, who own the station building, and to Greater Anglia, whose customers use it, after members voiced their frustration at its recent annual meeting.

The fire in February devastated the upper storey of the building and left the site having to be fenced-off, preventing the use of both seats and information boards.

ESTA said there had been no indication about whether the remaining structure is safe and capable of being repaired, or needs demolition.

Following the concerns raised at the annual meeting about both poor waiting conditions and the image the site gives of the town to arriving visitors, chairman of ESTA Trevor Garrod wrote to insist the public be told what the situation is, so that a proper consultation over longer term plans can then take place.

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Mr Garrod wrote to both operators stating “the station is currently unsightly and unwelcoming, and urgent action to improve it in the short term is needed”.

He pointed out in his letter that a platform seat, donated by the organisation some years ago in memory of the late Gerry Fiennes, once a senior British Rail manger and later mayor of Aldeburgh, is among the facilities currently fenced-off from use by passengers.

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The first priority after the fire was to get an indepth survey of the building.

A Greater Anglia spokesperson said: “We are awaiting the results of a full structural survey which was carried out following the fire.

“Once the survey has been completed we will assess the next steps, develop options and consult with local stakeholders.

“Our aim is to develop options which meet the aspirations of customers and the local community, as far as is practical.

“Our public affairs manager met with ESTA last month and will continue to communicate with them.”

At the time of the fire, the Art Station project was about to strip out a section of the building ready for use as a community art space.

The group is hoping that if the building can be saved then the project will be able to continue in the building.

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