Railway stations have been underappreciated for too long and regenerating them needs to tackle the 'challenge of bringing the rail industry on board', council directors and transport campaigners have said.
The Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT) said a recent focus session hosted with the Campaign for Better Transport (CfBT) found ‘a wide consensus’ in favour of developing railway stations.
CfBT chief executive Stephen Joseph highlighted that the session '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'.
Mike Ashworth, chair of the ADEPT transport board
Mike Ashworth, chair of the ADEPT transport board, said: ‘Railway stations act as gateways to our towns and cities and their importance has been underappreciated for too long. Looking at market towns and small cities, there are often areas of unused, under developed land around stations.
‘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.’
The news follows backing from countryside campaigners for Government plans to encourage high density housing near transport hubs and comments from Network Rail's chief executive that it cannot continue to rely on public funding to invest in rail improvements that drive regeneration.
CfBT, ADEPT members, expert consultants and business groups met with civil servants from four Government departments and discussed how redeveloping stations can act as a catalyst for growth and investment.
The Government departments at the workshop were the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Department for Transport, the Homes and Communities Agency and the Department for Communities and Local Government.