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Heritage railway station plans re-submitted to national park authority

30 May 2024 4 minute read
Beddgelert station. Photo by Roger Cornfoot is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Dale Spridgeon, local democracy reporter

A heritage railway station project which hit the buffers last year has been re-submitted.

An updated application concerning Beddgelert station was lodged with the Eryri National Park Authority on May 14.

A full application has been submitted by agent Chambers Conservation Ltd for a Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railway scheme.

Previous plans for a station building, to include ticket office, café, indoor and outdoor seating, toilets, office and covered waiting area and infrastructure were rejected by the park in back May, 2023.

‘Changing needs’

Now plans to “reflect changing needs” were highlighted in a Design, Access and Heritage Impact statement prepared in support of a full planning application concerning a new station building development at Beddgelert.

Last year, park planners received 21 responses from the public raising issues from the development’s size, to village impact, competition with shops, cafes and eateries, road access and effect on homes at Oberon Wood.

It was rejected for reasons of “inappropriate design and use of materials,” a “harmful and overbearing effect on residential properties,” and being “harmful to the vitality and viability of the village’s established retail area.”

Also for “detrimental effect,”on residential amenities – through excessive smells and noise, “excessive glazing,” lighting impact on the Dark Skies Reserve, increased traffic to service the building and policy conflicts.

But the new plans recognised a former scheme had been “perhaps overly large in terms of massing” and “a reduced impact proposal [was] needed…”

The restored Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railway runs services between Caernarfon and Porthmadog. Beddgelert station opened in 2009.

‘Climate emergency’

Plans noted changes due to the “climate emergency, the post-Covid environment and meeting the needs of those with impaired mobility”.

They stated: “The pattern of service operated in 2021 has led to more people gathering at Beddgelert Station, (is) likely to continue.”

The facilities “therefore need to take account of the variable weather in Eryri, in terms of covered waiting and associated facilities”.

The new scheme would also “fully respond” within the context of the historic village. The area around the station includes a conservation area and ancient woodland.

In 2009, a floor slab for a new building was cast to the south-east of the platforms – “enacting” a 2006 planning consent.

The latest scheme would see construction of a new station building using the slab but “updated to reflect current requirements”.

On hold

A building had been on hold for a number of years “primarily due to lack of funding and other work taking priority,” plans said.

Options had been “explored,” including one, since rejected, but which had reflected the original corrugated station built in 1923, demolished in 1937, when the railway closed.

Now, Beddgelert was an ” important destination” for services from both Caernarfon and Porthmadog, with a “significantly greater number” of passengers.

“A full review looking at changes in provision of the role of Beddgelert station, toilets, catering and other factors including the integration of sustainable technologies” were needed.

The station currently had temporary facilities, including a small booking office and toilets.

Lavatories were now “both inadequate and in poor condition” and would eventually need replacement. There were was also “issues” with “only just adequate…” electric supplies.

The new station plan would include “a covered waiting area, staff room and WCs, ticket office, with a small (railway related) retail area and coffee shop with small kitchen, external covered seating area and terrace.”

The building would be faced with untreated timber, the pitched roof would be in natural Welsh slate.

Suggested windows would be “fine pre-finished metal such as powdercoated aluminium in slender frames.

The revised scheme “provides better facilities, improved outlook and a more sustainable solution which enhances the conservation area, and reduces the massing of the scheme,” plans stated.

The ticket office would be “multi-purpose” combined with the retail and catering counter.

Catering provision was to be “considered in partnership with the successful ‘hamper’ offer” – a “more a simple coffee shop/café operation.”

A “covered waiting space would be “essential” to be well-lit partly internal and partly external.

The scheme noted a draft Conservation Area Appraisal (CAA) has been prepared for the village – currently subject to public consultation.

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