Stunning plans to transform heritage railway station
NEW images have revealed how a heritage railway station could look if £600,000 redevelopment works are approved.
The East Lancashire Railway (ELR) has applied to Rossendale council to renovate and expand Rawtenstall station, which railway bosses say will double the number of jobs and attract thousands more visitors.
Their vision for the station is to create a new canopy over the platform, in a similar design to those at the railway’s Ramsbottom and Bury stations, as well as building a new station building and forecourt.
Chairman Mike Kelly said: “This is a very exciting time for us here at the ELR with record levels of growth in visitors and hosting a wide range of diverse events.
“Working in partnership with Rossendale Borough Council and Lancashire County Council, the redevelopment of Rawtenstall station is one of our top priorities for the future which will see a doubling of the number of jobs and thousands of additional visitors using the facilities at the station and hopefully travelling on the railway.
“We have spent the last few months working with the team at Equilibrium Architects to come up with a design that is both in keeping with the station’s traditional appearance, yet boasting modern, high quality facilities.”
He added: “The East Lancashire Railway has been at the heart of Rawtenstall for the past 170 years and it is hoped that with the new development we will become an even greater part of the town and a key destination, for not only our passengers, but for our local community too.”
The ELR is seeking planning permission for an ‘L’ shaped canopy spanning the entire length and width of the station buildings, a 37-metre accessible building, containing a café, kitchen, activity and community room, tourist information centre, and toilet and baby changing facilities.
The Buffer Stops bar could be expanded, existing outside space remodelled and sheltered cycle stands and picnic areas created.
Richard Shuttleworth, director of Equilbrium Architects, said: “We have appreciated from the ELR brief the importance of preserving the heritage look and feel of the station. With these proposals Rawtenstall will have, for many years to come, a part of its proud railway heritage preserved for future generations to appreciate and enjoy.”
An initial plan for the redevelopment of Rawtenstall station was submitted to planners last year, but was refused on the grounds that it would impact on the character and appearance of the existing buildings.
LAST month, a senior councillor at Rossendale council issued a dire warning to Lancashire county council over the future of Bacup’s regeneration project.
Regeneration chief Andy MacNae warned that the chance to complete the regeneration of Bacup would be lost if LCC did confirm its support for a reworking of roads in the town centre, which included a controversial double roundabout in and around St James Square.
If that warning was designed to force LCC’s hand, then it didn’t work.
The highways authority has said it won’t be supporting the double roundabout scheme.
But despite the prediction that this would result in the chance being missed to complete the regeneration of Bacup, all is not lost.
The county council has confirmed it will support a project to improve traffic flow in Bacup, which will probably involve just one roundabout, and the preservation of the Coronation Fountain, which previously may just have vanished.
The county council has also committed to find a solution which can work within the timescales set out by the bodies funding the heritage work in Bacup.
It would appear a third way – neither the double roundabout or nothing at all options which just a few weeks ago were presented as the only two options – is possible after all.
Overall, despite talk of what was at stake and so on, it feels like a sensible solution.
Some might even say it’s a victory for democracy.
Despite very public, and indeed quite personal, criticism of their opposition, Tory county councillors in the area have stuck to their guns and their belief that in opposing the scheme, they are sticking up for the common view that the double roundabout scheme is not a good idea.
On more than one occasion it has been claimed that the double roundabout scheme does have widespread support, it’s just that people didn’t feel they could say so.
If intimidation of views has become such an issue over a project designed to improve a town centre, it’s a very sad state of affairs and those responsible for conducting the consultation and conversation need to ask why it’s happened.
But that’s part of the problem with consultations – in theory, it’s a very good idea, but does regularly result in people feeling ignored or sidelined.
And invariably consultations result in councils being accused of cherry-picking views.
It’s not an exclusive thing to Rossendale, but we’ve certainly seen people claim that here.
Haslingden Baths closed despite a consultation in which people wanted it to stay open, and the consultations over the redevelopment of Rawtenstall station have left some people angry.
Could the council have solved this by holding a mini referendum on the Bacup scheme?
A legally-binding referendum would be an expensive affair, but a cheaper alternative could have been offered.
Could, for example, have Rossendale council provided a ballot box in the library in which people could place a vote once they’d had their name ticked off the electoral roll?
Or could it have been done online, again using electoral roll numbers?
Avoiding allegations of voting irregularities would be a challenge, but surely not insurmountable.
Maybe voting on big local issues could become standard during existing elections – after all, there have been several elections during the time the double roundabout scheme has been debated.
Maybe, just maybe, if such a idea had been tested, we wouldn’t have ended up with an 11th hour standoff between councillors over who had the will of the Bacup public with them.
Artist’s impressions of the planned improvements at Rawtenstall station
How Rawtenstall station looks at the moment
An aerial image showing how the abandoned Bacup public realm scheme would have looked