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New plan for future of Lowestoft station

PUBLISHED: 11:39 19 March 2010 | UPDATED: 16:48 06 July 2010

NEW retail, leisure, hotel and tourism developments are at the heart of plans to transform the area around Lowestoft town centre.

An updated Area Action Plan for the town proposes that Peto Square will become a "central focus for retail, leisure and commercial activity at the heart of Lowestoft," and that regenerating rundown areas should see Lowestoft railway station relocated.

NEW retail, leisure, hotel and tourism developments are at the heart of plans to transform the area around Lowestoft town centre.

An updated Area Action Plan for the town proposes that Peto Square will become a “central focus for retail, leisure and commercial activity at the heart of Lowestoft,” and that regenerating rundown areas should see Lowestoft railway station relocated.

A feasibility study has recently been undertaken to consider moving the town's station.

But rather than shifting it to a new site 450m away, as previously mooted, the AAP now suggests it should be built 80m west and 40m south of the existing station “with associated passenger facilities and reconfigured platforms”.

The new proposals also include a new transport interchange next to the railway station - with facilities for taxi pick up/drop off, secure covered cycle storage, bus waiting and real-time transport information.

And as well as the station, Peto Square would be transformed with “retail, leisure, hotel and tourism development” along with other leisure facilities in the area between Denmark Road and North Quay.

This latest blueprint for the station, which was being discussed at last night's Waveney District Council cabinet meeting, comes just days after transport watchdog East Suffolk Travellers' Association (Esta) called for improvements to all stations on the Ipswich to Lowestoft rail line.

At a meeting in Halesworth on Saturday, Esta secretary Rod Lock made a particular plea for the promised enhancements to Beccles station to be implemented as soon as possible.

Guy McGregor, the county council's transport portfolio holder, told Esta members that money for station improvements was available, reiterating the council's commitment to invest £1m towards the cost of a passing loop at Beccles - to enable more frequent trains to run.

He said: “Whoever is operating our trains must provide an hourly Ipswich-Lowestoft service by 2012 with diesel trains like those operating currently between Lowestoft and London. We are also pressing for half-hourly weekday trains between Lowestoft and Norwich.”

Having objected to the previous plans to move Lowestoft station 400m, a recent survey by Esta revealed that its central position was essential. Esta's survey also showed 20pc of passengers were likely to travel less often, if at all, by train if the station was moved 450m inland.

The updated AAP says the development of the station site and Peto Square will require significant investment from both public and private sectors.

“The council and 1st East will work closely with ABP, Network Rail and the Aldi site owners as principal land owners and other development partners to refine a scheme for the site that makes the most of its strategic location,” the AAP says.

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