Green light for new city station

Westgate station CGI
Westgate station CGI

A NEW £8.1m station at Westgate was approved yesterday, despite claims that councillors had been “cornered”.

Wakefield Council’s planning committee unanimously approved the plan, which had been branded “damaging” to the city’s cultural assets in the way that it appeared to block off access to the Grade-II listed Orangery, on Back Lane.

Further concerns about a lack of escalators, disabled parking spaces, room for taxis and integration with other public transport services were raised at the meeting.

But representatives from Network Rail, who have led the scheme with East Coast, said delays could cost the scheme its funding.

Project sponsor Dan Guiher told the meeting that Department for Transport funding was dependent on retail outlets being secured and operational by October.

He said: “Any change to the proposed retail space could result in a loss of the business case and removal of funding.”

Coun Lawrence Kirkpatrick said the time pressures had left councillors with a “take it or leave it situation”.

And Robert Powell, director of Beam which is based at the Orangery, said Wakefield had been “cornered from the start” and urged councillors to demand changes to the plan.

But Mr Guiher said extensive consultation had been taken into account and that the new station would enhance the city centre.

The station will be built with ‘in’ and ‘out’ access to and from Mulberry Way.

It will contain more retail facilities, better disabled facilities, a travel centre, a First Class Lounge, new waiting area and ticket gates.

Coun Ron Halliday said the new station was a “fantastic venture” and had been years in the waiting.

But Coun David Hopkins said it was a “great pity” that people couldn’t have been completely behind the plan.

He said: “What we’re left with has niggling issues that don’t seem to have been addressed.”