Regenerating stations can provide a wealth of social and economic benefits beyond immediate refurbishment. That is the key finding of a recent focus session hosted by ADEPT, the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport, and the Campaign for Better Transport.
The Campaign for Better Transport, alongside ADEPT members, expert consultants and business groups from across the country met with civil servants from DBEIS, DfT, the HCA and DCLG. Discussion focussed on how the redevelopment of rail stations can act as a catalyst for growth and investment.
Chair of ADEPT Transport Board, Mike Ashworth said: ‘Railway stations act as gateways to our towns and cities and their importance has been underappreciated for too long. A high quality railway station is not just a transport hub, it’s a showcase, signifying a vibrant town centre and an area open to investment.
“Looking at market towns and small cities, there are often areas of unused, under developed land around stations. These can be used to provide opportunities for development, bringing housing, business and employment opportunities alongside enhanced connectivity and the potential for strong, integrated transport systems.’
“The workshop highlighted the need to challenge those involved in regeneration and in the rail industry to look at town centres in different ways. We need to think creatively, looking at entire areas rather than individual development hotspots, work across partnerships and parties rather than along traditional lines.”
Stephen Joseph, Chief Executive of the Campaign for Better Transport, said: “There’s now a wide consensus in favour of developing railway stations as gateways to communities and as hubs for housing, business and retail space. The workshop showed the challenge of bringing the rail industry on board, but also the huge prizes for both the industry and the communities it serves if such developments work”.
Delegates were able to bring examples of innovation from across the country, showing how familiar issues of deprivation, low land values and funding restraints are being tackled with new approaches and identifying synergies with other regeneration, infrastructure and investment programmes.
Stephen concluded: “Bringing so many partners around the table was invaluable, particularly when delegates include four Government departments, key statutory and interest groups and local authorities from across the country.