Aberystwyth Station Refurbishment

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Rhydgaled

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Just noticed that Arriva Trains Wales and Network Rail have submitted seperate planning applications for Aberystwyth station refurbishment. Unfortunatly their Ceredigion County Council planning webpages cannot be linked to (I tried copying the URL into another browser tab and it didn't work).

Network Rail's says: External alterations to railway station to include new side canopies and works to the forecourt

ATW's says: The scheme proposes the replacement, repair, and refurbishment of various station facilities to create a coherent station, improve passenger access, functional operability and the setting of the historic building.

From what I've heard of the scheme in the past, they seem to be intent on ruining the setting of the historic buildings with new frontages/entrances, and Network Rail's short description sounds like they are intending to mess up the building itself with extra canopies. I'll have to go to the planning office to look at the full plans.

Also, I sent the following e-mail at the end of Feb, way before the planning applications were submitted:
I am interested in the plans for 'upgrading' Aberystwyth railway station.

An article in the Cambrian news suggests that planning permission for the bus station project, on which I see work has started, has not been obtained. This leaves me concerned that you may be planning to significantly alter the station (which I understand is a listed building) or its surroundings without providing an opportunity for the public to comment via the planning system.

In particular, I object to the only plans I have seen for the station, which included giant metal lettering obscuring the original structure. More recently, I read that a new entrance, with an estimated total cost of £3 million, is planned. It horrifies me that changes to the classic design of the station could even be contemplated. All the station needs in my opinion is renovation of what is there, particularly the platform canopy, and a free waiting room for passengers.

Please could you explain to me what the current plans are or suggest where can I see them?
The reply, recieved at the begining of March, runs thus:
The work currently taking place at the Bus Station does not require Planning Permission. The Council has permitted development rights to undertake such work.

Regarding the Train Station, design proposals are currently being finalised and any works will be subject to planning permission and listed building consent. As part of this process there will be a statutory consultation period for representations to be made by stakeholders and members of the public.
I am particularly interested by the "there will be a statutory consultation period for representations to be made by stakeholders and members of the public." bit. Does this mean there is a proper consultation on the plans for the station, or is it just refering to the opertunity to comment on the planning application?
 
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Gareth Marston

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Just noticed that Arriva Trains Wales and Network Rail have submitted seperate planning applications for Aberystwyth station refurbishment. Unfortunatly their Ceredigion County Council planning webpages cannot be linked to (I tried copying the URL into another browser tab and it didn't work).

Network Rail's says: External alterations to railway station to include new side canopies and works to the forecourt

ATW's says: The scheme proposes the replacement, repair, and refurbishment of various station facilities to create a coherent station, improve passenger access, functional operability and the setting of the historic building.

From what I've heard of the scheme in the past, they seem to be intent on ruining the setting of the historic buildings with new frontages/entrances, and Network Rail's short description sounds like they are intending to mess up the building itself with extra canopies. I'll have to go to the planning office to look at the full plans.

Also, I sent the following e-mail at the end of Feb, way before the planning applications were submitted:


The reply, recieved at the begining of March, runs thus:
I am particularly interested by the "there will be a statutory consultation period for representations to be made by stakeholders and members of the public." bit. Does this mean there is a proper consultation on the plans for the station, or is it just refering to the opertunity to comment on the planning application?
Its the sort of consultation you have to find out abut yourself on the relevant Local Authority's website and then comment they won't inform anybody. Last I heard the bus station bit outside was going ahead but ATW had cold feet about the funding mechanism for the railway station as they were expected by others to manage European Structural Fund money and push all the paper around that goes with it.
 

Rhydgaled

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How can you be horrified at plans that you haven't even seen yet? I don't know the town at all, but looking at Google Street View most of the former main station building is now a Wetherspoons, and the main station entrance isn't exactly a superb piece of archietcture.
Personally, I think of that as the side entrance to the station, not the main entrance, there's at least two other routes in too.

While it isn't particularly special, the archietecture is much nicer in my opinion than the (out of date) artist's impression I've seen of that side of the building after refurbishment which had a glass frontage with metal letters spelling out HTYWTSYREBA blocking the view of the old building. Gareth Marston has suggested in the past that silly sign is off the agenda now, but if somebody came up with that there could still be something just as awful (or far worse) in the plans. Also, the artist's impressions accompanying the more recent publication of plans for the bus station hint that that silly is might still be included in the rail station plans after all.

The main entrance, as I see it, is through a portal in the GWR building which also contains the Wetherspoons (where I've eaten many a time). The portal itself is right behind one of the no entry signs in this image.

Also take a look at this shot taken inside the station. Looks very nice to me, not in need of refurbishment at all. The only real problem (aside from the inexplicable lack of waiting room) is if you look up, the same red, green and cream is on the canopy but it's all rusty and grubby now and needs a clean and a fresh lick of paint.

The one other thing I'd like to see from a refurbishment is a 'Platforms 1, 2 & 3' sign matching the 'Platforms 4 & 5' sign at the entrance to Craft (I think it is currently behind the Buffet sign in this image, obscured by the foriegn-food resturant, just move it over towards the Craft side of the station a bit).
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Its the sort of consultation you have to find out abut yourself on the relevant Local Authority's website and then comment they won't inform anybody. Last I heard the bus station bit outside was going ahead but ATW had cold feet about the funding mechanism for the railway station as they were expected by others to manage European Structural Fund money and push all the paper around that goes with it.
So just the planning application then. ATW have submitted a planning application now though, so it looks like their feet have warmed up again.
 

PHILIPE

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Yr Hen Orsaf (Wetherspoons) is the former Cambrian Offices and located on the concourse. However, it is fenced off and you have to go outside to access although the Beer Garden is in effect on the former platform.
 

Rhydgaled

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Went to the planning office today. Official period for comments ended 11th June, they say represenations MAY not be considered after that date. Also, apparently planning permission is not actually required (just listed building and conservation area consent).

Since even Gareth Marston of SARPA didn't seem to know about it, I think the lack of opertunity for the public to comment is a disgrace. Has anyone seen the little yellow/white A4 sheet notifying the public of the application at the station? I never saw one, just happened to check the council's planning application search facilities on their website.

Alot of internal walls are to be demolished and the interior reconfigured, for example the ticket office (which the plans claim is a waiting room) looks like it will be knocked through into the cafe to enlarge the latter.

However, the alterations I object to involve the 'side entrance' (which the application seems to consider the main entrance). The current steps and dogleg ramp are to be demolished and a new straight ramp with glass sides put in which extends outside the current structures under a new glass and steel canopy which extends alongside the GWR structure. This modern glass and steel archetecure beats a breeze-block bus shelter for new stations, but is not in keeping with historic buildings and I can't see a reason for putting this canopy at Aberystwyth station, it's just a waste of money.

The canopy doesn't look like it would make quite as big a difference as the HYWTSYREBA sign would have made, but is still a pretty awful idea.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Yr Hen Orsaf (Wetherspoons) is the former Cambrian Offices and located on the concourse. However, it is fenced off and you have to go outside to access although the Beer Garden is in effect on the former platform.
Yr Hen Orsaf (Wetherspoons) is in the GWR building isn't it? The older Cambrian Railways building is the one currently used for rail purposes is it not?

There is access to Wetherspoons from the station side as well as from the road outside. You can walk through Wetherspoons to get onto the platform.

This shot shows where I think the 'Platforms 1, 2 & 3' sign should have been put, right above the gates in the foreground. These gates are shut very occasionally, and presumablly mark the boundary of resturant ownership and NR ownership, but I've only seen them closed once (when the station was closed and rail-replacment road transport was provided). Turn 180 degrees from where that picture was taken and you can see right out onto the road through the portal which I think of as the main enterance. Judging by the plans I saw today this portal is apparently owned by one of the resturants.
 

PHILIPE

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Went to the planning office today. Official period for comments ended 11th June, they say represenations MAY not be considered after that date. Also, apparently planning permission is not actually required (just listed building and conservation area consent).

Since even Gareth Marston of SARPA didn't seem to know about it, I think the lack of opertunity for the public to comment is a disgrace. Has anyone seen the little yellow/white A4 sheet notifying the public of the application at the station? I never saw one, just happened to check the council's planning application search facilities on their website.

Alot of internal walls are to be demolished and the interior reconfigured, for example the ticket office (which the plans claim is a waiting room) looks like it will be knocked through into the cafe to enlarge the latter.

However, the alterations I object to involve the 'side entrance' (which the application seems to consider the main entrance). The current steps and dogleg ramp are to be demolished and a new straight ramp with glass sides put in which extends outside the current structures under a new glass and steel canopy which extends alongside the GWR structure. This modern glass and steel archetecure beats a breeze-block bus shelter for new stations, but is not in keeping with historic buildings and I can't see a reason for putting this canopy at Aberystwyth station, it's just a waste of money.

The canopy doesn't look like it would make quite as big a difference as the HYWTSYREBA sign would have made, but is still a pretty awful idea.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Yr Hen Orsaf (Wetherspoons) is in the GWR building isn't it? The older Cambrian Railways building is the one currently used for rail purposes is it not?

There is access to Wetherspoons from the station side as well as from the road outside. You can walk through Wetherspoons to get onto the platform.

This shot shows where I think the 'Platforms 1, 2 & 3' sign should have been put, right above the gates in the foreground. These gates are shut very occasionally, and presumablly mark the boundary of resturant ownership and NR ownership, but I've only seen them closed once (when the station was closed and rail-replacment road transport was provided). Turn 180 degrees from where that picture was taken and you can see right out onto the road through the portal which I think of as the main enterance. Judging by the plans I saw today this portal is apparently owned by one of the resturants.
I may be wrong but from my own experience I thought the gate from Wetherspoons to the platform was kept locked.
 

brianthegiant

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@ Rhydgaled

well, my experience is that the listed building people in Wales can be very conservative, so your concerns might be shared.

However, in general I think there's a shift in attitudes around building preservation. I think the current approach is that where listed buildings are extended, the extension should be sympathetic to the original, but not be a carbon copy of it's style of building. (the C4 series 'Restoration Man' tackles this issue a lot).

Thankfully the days of ripping down historic railway buildings are behind us. However, if we want the railways in this country to grow and prosper, there is going to a need to extend and improve stations, that is going to necesitate new structures. Ultimately mainline railways are primarily there to provide a public service, preserving historic buildings is a secondary function. In the extreme case, were it not for revenue from the operational railway the buildings would be crumbling and full of budleia.
 

Rhydgaled

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Thankfully the days of ripping down historic railway buildings are behind us. However, if we want the railways in this country to grow and prosper, there is going to a need to extend and improve stations, that is going to necesitate new structures. Ultimately mainline railways are primarily there to provide a public service, preserving historic buildings is a secondary function. In the extreme case, were it not for revenue from the operational railway the buildings would be crumbling and full of budleia.
Well, just last year there was a historic railway building, crumbling and full of budleia. It was in a conservation area and despite the dreadful state it was in (much of it beyond repair, but perhaps not quite all) it was still nice to look at, perhaps thanks to the budleia concealing the most-decayed sides. They ripped it down and reopenned the station without it.

In the case of Aberystwyth, the current buildings are sufficent for what they are planning. The glass & steel canopy outside, which is what I'm objecting to, is in no way sympathetic to the old buildings and is only a canopy (no walls or anything, not in anyway an extention to the buildings to provide additional facilities). Visual appearance objections aside, the proposed canopy does not seem to serve any useful purpose. Why not spend the money from that part of the scheme on providing some actual facilities, either elsewhere on Aberystwyth station or at other stations (I can think of at least one with a boarded-up building in rather tatty condition and a complete absence of interchange facilities, despite it being a junction)?
 

brianthegiant

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Well canopies aren't such a bad thing in West Wales, it does rain quite a lot after all. IMHO rail travel should be a pleasant experience for everyone & if that means building some canopies so people dont get wet waiting for taxis etc then so be it.

I've also yet to be convinced there is anything so architecturally or historically unique or specatcular about Aber station that means it should not have a new canopy at one of it's entrances.
 

Sun!

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I may be wrong but from my own experience I thought the gate from Wetherspoons to the platform was kept locked.
No it isn't. I would say the vast majority (90%+) use the entrance inbetween Wetherspoons and the Shilam Indian Restaurant.
http://goo.gl/maps/vu8U


A canopy already extends partially around the side of the building/ main entrance area. It doesn't look to bad or unsympathetic.
 
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