City Lib Dems have proposed an alternative vision for Canterbury West – which doesn’t include a multi-storey car park.
Their plans for an integrated transport hub which involve opening up the north side of the station from Roper Road, enlarging ticket hall on the south side, a bigger bus stop and frequent hopper bus services connecting the train station to other locations in the city.
The group also wants to see more trees, an increased size taxi rank relocated to the car park plus a bike hire and bike storage facility.
- VIDEO: As he prepares to perform in city, here are Omid Djalili’s best one-liners
- Future of proposed largescale housing scheme remains unresolved
Earlier this year, Canterbury City Council awarded itself planning permission to build a £9 million 374-space multi-storey on the site of its existing car park in Station Road West.
The structure provoked opposition on the grounds that it would ruin the appearance of the area and encourage traffic into St Dunstan’s at a time when the council is trying to reduce pollution.
Lib Dem leader Cllr Michael Dixey is among the most vehement critics of the project.
He said: “The multi-storey car park is one of the worst ideas the council has ever produced.
“It would cause gridlock, make air pollution even worse, and would create a monstrous
carbuncle on the face of our beautiful city.
“Infrastructure at Canterbury West is creaking at the seams. Instead, what we have done is come up with an elegant solution which makes everyone’s lives better.
“It’s good for residents, good for commuters, good for car drivers, good for public transport and good for the environment.
“In contrast most locals see the multi-storey scheme as quite the opposite – very bad indeed.”
Campaigner Sian Pettman described the Lib Dem proposal as “eminently sensible”, arguing that it is in line with the council’s Local Plan which requires that any increase in station parking should be accompanied by measures to increase access by bus, foot and bicycle.
She added: “It would be sheer folly to push ahead with the construction of the multi-storey before serious consideration has been given to alternative proposals such as this.”
Council chief executive Colin Carmichael says the multi-storey is one part of a programme of works designed to meet the forecast increased demand at Canterbury West.
He said:”Canterbury West is now clearly the main railway station for the city and developing ways to ensure the maximum number of people can use it is important.
“It’s good that people are coming forward with ideas and we have already been working on many of these as we look to increase cycling, pedestrian, taxi and bus access at the station.
“Our new multi-storey car park is one part of the jigsaw and the increased capacity will deal with future demand from extra housing and more train services. We have done this using taxpayers’ money as no private sector operator would have done so.
“We have regular discussions with Network Rail, Southeastern and Kent County Council, as you would expect. The forecourt has already been improved and conversations are happening about increasing capacity for buses, taxis and bikes, as well as greater space for people getting in and out and collecting tickets.
“Pedestrian links to the city centre have also been enhanced, with wider pavements and the recent work in front of the Westgate Towers.
“On the northern access issue in particular, we have talked about this with Network Rail, and have offered to buy the land, but were turned down.
“The land where the footbridge would be extended to is home to an operational control centre, which cannot be relocated for at least five years. New lifts and ticket facilities would also be needed, and Network Rail have made it very clear to us that this project is not a priority for them.
“That said, we will continue to lobby on this point, and should an opportunity come along in future, we will try once again to purchase it.”
The Lib Dem proposals will be put forward to city council for discussion.