Rochester’s new railway station has won formal planning approval despite officers admitting they did not consider the impact of a planned hotel right across the street.
The £26m project, 500 metres from the current station, which will be shut down, is due to open by Christmas 2015 with a modern design and room for longer trains.
Plans for the new Rochester railway station in Corporation Street
Medway Council’s planning committee approved the blueprints unanimously on Wednesday but still raised concerns about parking.
The glass-and-metal building will take up part of the busy Corporation Street car park, with a new car park built on the other side of the tracks and linked via a foot subway.
Officers stressed there will be more parking spaces overall than there are now, and a temporary car park will cope with demand while the station is built.
But they were pushed on the detail by Strood North member Cllr Stephen Hubbard (Lab).
They admitted they never considered the impact on parking of a possible five-storey hotel across the road, despite it having permission to start being built any time before Christmas 2015.
A statement added: “There will be times when mitigation will not be sufficient to deal with the noise, but officers believe these will be small in number for limited periods.”
City of Rochester Society member Chris Burrows attended the meeting and said: “There wasn’t much discussion and it seems the discussion brought to light some fairly fundamental flaws with the parking provision – the conflict between commuter parking, potential use by a future hotel and demand from the high street.”
"I think a new station will be of tremendous benefit" - Cllr Chambers
But committee chairman Cllr Diane Chambers (Con) said the station was an offer Medway couldn’t refuse.
“To visit Rochester station as it presently is, it’s not a very nice experience,” she said. “We’re a tourist area, especially Rochester and I think a new station will be of tremendous benefit.
“One thing we need to be very careful about is the materials used in the building and they must be sustainable. There’s nothing worse than having something built and five years down the line it looks tired.”
Fiona Taylor, Network Rail’s route managing director for Kent, added: “This new station will deliver a huge boost to Rochester and Medway and provide passengers with improved facilities and better access to the town centre and surrounding area.
"It will be able to accommodate longer trains than the current station, helping boost capacity and providing more seats for passengers. It will also help kick-start the wider regeneration of the Riverside area, which is an important part of the development and future of Rochester.”