Multi-storey opponents draw up their own vision for West station

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An artist's impression of the alternative for Canterbury West

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.

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 Cllr Mike Dixey

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.

Artists impression of Station Road West car park
An artist’s impression of how Station Road West will look after the multi-storey is complete

“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.

 

4 COMMENTS

  1. So, 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, and that:”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. Can he really be serious about spending £9m in order to deliver another 374 cars into what is already one of the most gridlocked part of town. The City Council recognised years ago that the infrastructure could not cope with the number of vehicles coming into the city and, over the years, has provided three ‘park and ride’ sites (New Dover Road, Wincheap and Sturry Road) in order to cope. Has he been to the St Dunstan’s area when a train arrives? The whole area comes to a standstill and is gridlocked due to the crossing closing. Cars sit there with their engines running, sending even more noxious gases into the already polluted air. Cars wishing to turn left at the roundabout at the junction of St Dunstan’s and Station Road West, simply can’t do so and, from the other direction, cars stack up beyond the Westgate Towers. There needs to be another park and ride with a dedicated bus service to the West Station. The population also needs to change its mindset and find alternatives ways of getting to the station. Has anyone been to Holland and seen the size of the cycle storage facilities that are provided, it works for them, why shouldn’t it for us. The car park will never be enough, the amount of cars will keep increasing, especially with the growth of Canterbury’s population. I fail to see how providing the car park will ensure the maximum number of people will be able to use the station. It’s at near capacity now. Try using the train Mr Carmichael, and see for yourself. I would also like to know why the people of Canterbury are having to pay for a car park for the benefit of the railway company. He keeps coming up with bland statements, but he should look at better alternatives. All that an extra 374 cars will do is make the city even more gridlocked and make the air quality even worse than it is now. If this goes ahead we will be left with a dreadful building and everything that comes with it.

  2. Network Rail is a public body, whose only shareholder is the taxpayer. Canterbury should lobby to take over ownership and managemet of the station (via a body like that set up to run the Marlowe) so it is run for the benefit of the people, businesses and visitors to the city. The Lib Dem proposal has common sense, imagination and clear benefits. It’s proper strategy, not a set of short-term patchwork solutions of the sort the Council favours.

    CCC’s current plains are yesterday’s solutions to yesterday’s problems and will plant a wholly inappropriate building at the city’s front door. “Welcome to historic Canterbury, where we greet you with a giant, domineering, ugly, car park. We’ve had the Romans, we’ve had the Normans, we’ve had the bombers of the Luftwaffe, now we give you 21st century vandals and a building built by those in power who didn’t listen.”

    • Congratulations on everyone involved in drawing up this imaginative counter proposal.

      I do hope that rather than immediate rejection because of party politics all Cllrs will be free to give this idea the serious consideration it merits..

      In particular i hope that neighbouring communities in Herne Bay ,Whitstable and the surrounding villages will engage in the debate which is required because they will have to share the cost burden for decades if not indefinitely ..

      Reference is made to the Councils existing plan as part of a jigsaw without sharing the whole picture for public scrutiny.

      I remain puzzled as to the expected usage. When the Mountfield Park planning application was approved we wold told categorically that the residents would access CWest on foot ,by electric bike or by fast bus-certainly not cars. Now somewhat bizarrely we are told the new car park is needed to accommodate …….commuters cars !! .As Private Eye might put it “shome confusion shurely”.So where will the fast buses hurtling down Nunnery Fields into the City and on to the station offload and pick up passengers?

      In the meantime I trust the authorities will continue to press Network Rail to improve the services out of C East in order that the passenger load can be more evenly shared between the two stations..

      How odd that the City Council , having yesterday announced a very imaginative and praiseworthy scheme for free parking for cyclists at Wincheap Pand R should continue unblinkingly to persist with its antediluvian idea of a large shed for cars when other more far sighted local authorities elsewhere are rapidly abandoning such schemes.

      Come on Canterbury we are a WHS site and as this new proposal demonstrates so vividly we can and should do much better than the folly which quite incredibly secured planning approval two months ago.

  3. I totally support the Lib. Dem. idea and feel the Council should look very carefully at it. To bring even more traffic into St Dunstan’s Street with its frequent closure for trains passing over the crossing is crass. And Colin Carmichael even envisages the number of trains to rise in the future, so even more congestion. The idea that it will encourage more people to shop in St Dunstan’s street is just an excuse to support the Councils decision. More people must be encourage to cycle or walk to the station, or rely on buses. If the pollution levels are already above legally permitted levels in a street of domestic houses, why is notice not being taken of this fact, and it simply waived aside in order to permit this development. Much more thought needs to be put in to Canterbury’s mobility strategy over the next 25 or more years; the answer cannot be to encourage yet more traffic in a grid-locked street.

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