Burnley’s Manchester Road train station design divides opinion

GREEN LIGHT: The visualisation of the new Manchester Road Railway Station (s)
GREEN LIGHT: The visualisation of the new Manchester Road Railway Station (s)
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A PROPOSED fin feature for a new train station building in Burnley has been branded as “hideous” and “rubbish” by local councillors.

The latest Burnley Council Development Control Committee meeting saw a row emerge over the designs for the redevelopment of Manchester Road Railway Station.

GREEN LIGHT: The visualisation of the new Manchester Road Railway Station (s)

GREEN LIGHT: The visualisation of the new Manchester Road Railway Station (s)

Planning permission was granted in March this year for the improvement of the station, by the refurbishment of the old building. However, new proposals were then placed to demolish the old building entirely, and construct a new station building on the same footprint, which would include manned ticket facilities, an improved pedestrian entrance, new car parking and a new platform waiting shelter.

While everybody on the committee agreed that the development is important for the future of Burnley, there was a strong debate over how it would fit in with the architecture of the town.

The visualisations (pictured) show how the building is designed in two sections, separated by a feature fin wall, which would cut through the building. It is clad in metal panels at low level, with coloured render above, and is intended to be visible from outside the site, to highlight the presence of the new station to the public.

But it was that particular feature that saw the committee split entirely down the middle, with six councillors agreeing with the recommendations for approval, and six believing that the proposals needed to be delegated or deferred, so that new designs could be drawn up. A suggestion was even made to host an emergency meeting in the next couple of weeks, to solely discuss the design of the station.

The deciding vote went to chairman of the committee, Frank Cant, who was in favour of the planning application.

Those against the design of the station, which will be the main station connecting Burnley to Manchester, via the Todmorden Curve, included Coun. Cosima Towneley, and Coun. Howard Baker, who felt that the design was not sympathetic to Burnley’s heritage.

Coun. Towneley said: “This station is going to stick out like a sore thumb.

“Whenever we want a new building, it has to be absolutely hideous.

“Nobody is saying that there shouldn’t be a facility. We accept the proposal in principle.

“Excuse the pun, but we are just being railroaded.

“Why the fin? To me, people find stations anyway, and we can have perfectly good signage in keeping with the town.”

And Coun. Baker said: “It looks absolutely rubbish. I would have expected something that is going to promote the town.”

Those in favour of the application gave various reasons for their consent, including the fact the station aims to deliver a modern, functional and energy-efficient building.

Coun. Stephen Large said: “Manchester Road as it is, is a completely dreary railway station.

“We are not putting up a landmark building. We are putting up a station, and currently we can’t see it from the road.

“I think it is the right design and I support it.”

And Burnley Council’s head of housing Paul Gatrell added: “What I would like to emphasise is that there has been a very strong emphasis on getting a modern, strong building for the station.”

Burnley Council leader Julie Cooper and the council’s chief executive Steve Rumbelow have both expressed their delight that the station plans have been given the green light.

Coun. Cooper said: “This is a vitally important step for Burnley’s future regeneration,”

Burnley Council is redeveloping the station, in partnership with Lancashire County Council, the East Lancashire Community Rail Partnership, Northern Rail and Network Rail.