Station plan pushes on

Kirkgate CGI image
Kirkgate CGI image
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KIRKGATE station moved a step closer to the refurbishment it desperately needs when planning permission for new platforms was granted yesterday.

Councillors approved Network Rail’s plan to renovate the station platforms, part of an overall investment of more than £5m to make the crime-plagued station safe.

It comes after the success of Staff Our Station – a three-year campaign by the Express and its readers to get staff on the platforms at Kirkgate, once labelled ‘the worst station in Britain’.

Last month Groundwork Wakefield applied for a complete restoration of the existing buildings, the creation of a first floor and new space for shops and businesses. The £3.5m project would also put staff on the platforms.

Network Rail’s plan involves removing and refurbishing some of the platform canopies and introducing new lighting and artwork.

Roofing would be strengthened with laminated glass panels on platform one, and there would be a new entrance to the subway at platform three.

Network Rail’s town planner Tony Rivero told yesterday’s meeting that new subway entrances would help to deter crime and anti-social behaviour.

He said: “We need to remove the perception of crime at this station. By investing and taking away areas where people can hide, we can make it safer. We want people to think that Kirkgate is a good place to get off the train.”

Mr Rivero said work could start in a “matter of weeks”.

And as councillors unanimously approved the plans, Coun Janet Holmes said: “The station has been an embarrassment to Wakefield for too long. At last, let’s do something about it.”

But Kevin Trickett, president of Wakefield Civic Society, said the demolition of a spine wall on the island platform was a loss of historical feature and would not enhance the site.

He told the meeting: “It is a heritage asset and once it’s gone, it’s gone forever. They are proposing to put the existing shelter in its place but we don’t think that is appropriate for a busy station.”

Mr Rivero said it would cost up to £3.5m to retain the spine wall, which is damaged and needs repairs.

He said: “We do accept that there is a regrettable loss of some historical features, but feel the public benefit makes this acceptable.”

Coun Ron Halliday said the rate of passengers using Kirkgate had rapidly decreased in the last two years. He said: “If this doesn’t go ahead then we are going to have no station at all, quite frankly.”