Stun­ning plans to trans­form her­itage rail­way sta­tion

Rossendale Free Press - - Front Page - CHAR­LOTTE GREEN

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

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