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Lowestoft railway station building improvement plan receives £10,000 funding boost

Lowestoft Train Station. Picture: NICK BUTCHER

Lowestoft Train Station. Picture: NICK BUTCHER

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Ambitious plans to breathe fresh life into Lowestoft Railway Station received a major funding boost this week.

A grant of £10,000 has been given to a group dedicated to bringing the station building back into full use and finding the best ways to preserve, enhance and revitalise the site.

The group will use yesterday’s Heritage Lottery Fund grant to set up a viability study to see if a proposed museum, café/restaurant, training facilities and meeting room for community groups could be created at the station building.

Group members will also use the funds to value how much the station is worth and establish likely renovation costs.

The group was formed last August and is led by Lowestoft Vision and includes Waveney District Council, Network Rail, Greater Anglia, Access Community Trust, Community Action Suffolk and Lowestoft College.

Danny Steel, chairman of Lowestoft Vision, was delighted the station project could now enter its next stage, with the feasibility study due to be completed by next March.

He said: “We are thrilled to have received the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund. This is an outstanding opportunity to kickstart an important local project and we can’t wait to get under way.

“This phase of work will be completed by March 2015 and will then enable further decisions to be taken on the longer term project,” he added,

“The partnership aims to bring the station building back into full commercial use. The viability study will determine whether the proposed café/restaurant, museum with library books, training facilities and meeting spaces for community groups is the preferred option.

“The renovated main station building aims to create new jobs, enhance and develop skills and promote local heritage to boost the local economy.”

Last July The Journal revealed how plans were being drawn up to breathe new life into the railway station, which was said to be in a run-down state and drew criticism from train passengers because of its condition.

Waveney’s Lake Lothing and Outer Harbour Area Action Plan has proposed that Lowestoft Station should be improved and the building brought back into use as it is a key heritage asset for the town.

The station improvement project is also an aim of the Lowestoft Transport and Infrastructure Prospectus.

Bruce Provan, Waveney’s cabinet member for tourism and economic development, said: “Revitalising historic buildings to bring economic benefit to the town is an important aspect of the town’s area action plan and we are delighted to have received this grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

“The hard work that has gone into securing this grant underlines the determination to deliver something exciting and very special for this iconic building. It is a great opportunity and one we will all do our best to deliver.”

Peter Aldous, Waveney MP, has called in the House of Commons for Lowestoft station to be refurbished.

He said: “The Lowestoft Station building is an iconic site in need of renovation and I am very pleased that this funding has been secured to help explore the options we may have.”

A Waveney spokesman, announcing news yesterday of the funding, said: “A local partnership has received a £10,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to kick start a scoping project which is looking at the best way to restore, renovate and revitalise Lowestoft’s station building

“The grant will enable the project group to value the building, establish likely renovation cost and carry out a viability study which will establish what work will best preserve and enhance the building.

“The Lake Lothing and Outer Harbour Area Action Plan proposed that Lowestoft Station should be improved and bring back in to use the main station building which is a key heritage asset for the town.”

In another transport boost to the town Anglia Bus also revealed this week that it would be investing in a GPS tracking system for its fleet of busses, which would lead to realtime customer information boards on its services at Lowestoft bus station

The news was revealed at a meeting of the East Suffolk Traveller’s Association (ESTA) on Saturday in Halesworth,

At the meeting Mr James Reeve, acting customer service manager at train operator Abellio Greater Anglia said the company was aware of overcrowding problems on the East Suffolk Line on Sunday afternoons and hoped to introduce an extra train in 2015.

It also planned to introduce an hourly summer Sunday service between Norwich and Lowestoft.

ESTA chairman Trevor Garrod said: “Overcrowding is an issue which has increasingly been brought to our attention since the hourly service has boosted the passenger number, so we welcome this announcement.

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