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Lowestoft rail station move plans anger

PUBLISHED: 08:24 17 February 2009 | UPDATED: 22:31 05 July 2010

A CONTROVERSIAL idea to move Lowestoft's railway station about a quarter of a mile away from the town centre has sparked another heated debate.

Bosses of the 1st East Urban Regeneration Company were quizzed about their proposal to relocate the busy station about 400m to the west when they appeared before Waveney District Council's scrutiny committee.

A CONTROVERSIAL idea to move Lowestoft's railway station about a quarter of a mile away from the town centre has sparked another heated debate.

Bosses of the 1st East Urban Regeneration Company were quizzed about their proposal to relocate the busy station about 400m to the west when they appeared before Waveney District Council's scrutiny committee.

They were invited to talk generally about their regeneration plans for the town, but the issue of the railway station was a particularly hot topic.

1st East believes several hectares of redundant land around the station site could attract huge investment and help redevelop the area.

However, the idea came under fire from Waveney's Liberal Democrat leader Andrew Shepherd and the council's only Green Party member, Graham Elliott, at a meeting last week.

Mr Shepherd said: “I wouldn't want to see Lowestoft railway station moved. It brings people to the seafront and the shopping centre.

“Most towns would give a lot to have a railway station in the centre of the town. It would be a disaster for Lowestoft. We've got something good so let's keep it. Develop around it.”

1st East's regeneration plans involve a large-scale redevelopment of the area around the station in a bid to reconnect the town with its waterfront areas. It has argued that the station would still be at the heart of Lowestoft because its plans would effectively extend the town centre to the new site.

Mr Elliott said: “You want to bring the town centre out by 400 metres, but that is quite an ambitious target. It is already the best part of a mile from the railway station to the town hall.”

1st East chief executive Philip Watkins admitted the station move idea had been one of the most controversial elements of his organisation's action plan.

He added: “We said there might possibly be a new station about 400 metres away. The whole idea would be to bring the town centre up to it. It is a proposal and not a done deal. Groups will be involved and fully consulted on any development. I would ask people to be open-minded.”

Independent councillor Peter Collecott said: “Personally, I very much in favour of the suggestion made about freeing up all the land around the area. I don't know why the railway station should be sacrosanct.”

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