Mixed views over plan for Lowestoft railway station
AS consultation over the future development of Lowestoft's waterfront areas draws to a close today, the East Suffolk Travellers' Association has welcomed aspects of the latest proposals for the town's rail station, but voiced concern at others.
With Waveney District Council's Lowestoft Lake Lothing and Outer Harbour Area Action Plan set to finish the latest piece of consultation today, ESTA – the independent voluntary body for local train and bus users – has welcomed the plans as they appear to rule out any moving of the station in the foreseeable future.
With Waveney receiving representations up to 5pm today, prior to submission to the Secretary of State for examination, the AAP is likely to be submitted next month along with all the representations received at this stage.
And this week ESTA welcomed 'the decision to retain the station on its present strategically located site,' in its comments to the council.
The association's secretary, Rod Lock, reminded the council of ESTA's own 2009 survey of passengers, which indicated that fewer people would use the station if it were moved inland.
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However, ESTA expresses concern at a reference in Waveney District Council's consultation document to 'a minimum of two platforms plus a siding for excursion trains.' The association stresses the need to keep three platforms, at current length, and to improve facilities at the existing station.
ESTA's response goes on to say: 'The plan should now accept that both in the short term and the long term, relocation of Lowestoft station is neither strategically acceptable nor legally possible.
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'The provisions of the Railway Act 2005 have not been taken into account and should certainly have been identified as a major rick. The railway industry has been opposed to any relocation of the station. The threat of any possible future relocation should therefore be removed.
'It is debatable whether Lowestoft could support a retail development of the size previously proposed (by First East, the regeneration company which wanted to move the station).'
Among the improvements which ESTA has urged for the station are combined bus and rail realtime information, space for more buses to call and more shelter for passengers. It also wants to see a shop re-established on the station.
With the public hearing stage of the AAP examination provisionally scheduled to commence in April next year, Waveney's Strategic Director Stephen Archer said: 'The Area Action Plan reflects a shared ambition to enhance and renew a wide area of Lowestoft.
'The council, in partnership with 1st East Urban Regeneration Company, is creating an exciting and positive vision for the future of the town, and we want our communities to contribute to this vision.
'This is the final opportunity for the community to make their views known.'
Representations can still be completed online using the council's interactive consultation portal at www.consult.waveney.gov.uk; but all submissions must be received by 5pm today.