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£26m Rochester station move will address parking and design fears, rail bosses promise

Rail bosses admit parking and design fears could be their biggest challenges to building a new station in Rochester.

Network Rail this week lodged a full version of their plan to move the railway station 500 metres up the line – at a cost of £26m.

The area will gain 38 parking spaces but will have to serve commuters, not just visitors as it does now.

Rochester’s current High Street station, which will have its platforms demolished and be sold off, has 28 spaces.

Although 80% of commuters were in favour, there were concerns over parking and design.

Network Rail says there has been “careful consideration” over parking and a temporary car park will be built when work starts.

But it also insists the current car park in Corporation Street is hardly ever full. Nearly 100 of its spaces are being lost to build the station, a forecourt and drop-off zone, with the parking only replaced on the other side of the tracks.

Other passengers have compared the new station’s glass and metal design to a “distribution warehouse” not in keeping with historic Rochester.

Map of the old and new Rochester stations
Map of the old and new Rochester stations

The planners replied: “Consideration was given as to whether to design a more ‘historic looking’ station.

“However, it was felt that rather than to try and design something which represents the history of Rochester it was considered more appropriate to provide something of a modern image, which is reflective of the development of the area.”

The station could also include etchings of historic architecture on the station glass, historic references in the subway, public art and tourist information.

The final decision will be taken by the council’s planning committee, which is allowed to reject the plans – but few expect that to happen.

Network Rail received a letter of support from council leader Rodney Chambers (Con) more than a year ago and has given a presentation to all councillors.

But the plans have already drawn one objection.

Irene Arnall, of New Covenant Place, Rochester, said: “Most women would not use a subway day or night. They are dangerous places and I’m surprised to learn that one is being considered.”

To comment search 13/0971 at medway.gov.uk/planning before Tuesday, May 21.

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