Full steam ahead for £4.3m rail station revamp

Worcestershire County Council has today (Tuesday, February 3) welcomed a government decision to provide an extra £1.8 million to get the long-awaited redevelopment of Kidderminster Railway Station under way.

Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership secured £2.5million last summer (2014) and the additional funding now allocated to the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) means the full funding is now available and planning towards delivering the scheme can now start.

The £4.3 million project is a key component of Worcestershire’s Strategic Economic Plan which aims to create 25,000 extra jobs and boost the county’s economy to the tune of £2.9 billion over the next ten years.

Now that all the funding for the railway station redevelopment is in place it is anticipated that construction work will start by next summer (2016) after the design, planning and tendering processes have been completed.

Worcestershire County Council will appoint contractors and be responsible for delivering the project which is expected to take around 18 months once building starts.

The revamp at Kidderminster will provide new railway station buildings, improved passenger facilities, a new forecourt layout, and better access and facilities for pedestrians, people with disabilities, cyclists, taxi and bus operators and their passengers.

Access to the station from the A448 Comberton Hill will be improved by the installation of traffic lights at the junction with Lea Street.

The scheme aims to improve accessibility to and from the Wyre Forest area for employment, health, education, leisure, retail and tourism, including the Severn Valley Railway which is an important part of the West Midlands tourist industry. It will support economic growth and regeneration in Wyre Forest.

Cllr Simon Geraghty, Worcestershire County Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economy, Skills and Infrastructure, said: “We are delighted that all the funding is now in place to enable this project to move ahead. Developments like this are helping to achieve our aim of ensuring the county is Open for Business by improving transport links and infrastructure. It is also one of a number of infrastructure projects to help grow the local economy.  This scheme will compliment other major projects in the local area, such as the improvements to Kidderminster Town Centre public space and the Hoobrook Link Road and demonstrates our commitment to realising the economic potential of all parts of the county.”

Gary Woodman, Executive Director of the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “This scheme was seen as a priority for the Worcestershire Growth Deal and as such was previously allocated £2.5m to spend during 2016/7. We are delighted that the additional funding has now been secured for this valuable transport project making this now viable.

“We will continue to work with Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership on schemes that will benefit Worcestershire.”

The development was also welcomed by Councillor John Campion, Cabinet Member for Planning and Economic Regeneration at Wyre Forest District Council, who said: “This announcement of additional funding by the Government reiterates the importance of this project. Since the inception of the ReWyre initiative, connecting our district to key networks and towns and cities has always been one of our top priorities.

“The station is an important gateway to the town and we will continue to work with partners to ensure that the redevelopment goes ahead as soon as possible. We welcome this funding to help us create another positive development for the district.”

The redevelopment is a feature of the county’s Strategic Economic Plan (SEP) which is promoting a ‘World Class Worcestershire’ to attract business and inward investment.

The SEP is being driven by Worcestershire LEP, of which the county council is a key partner. The Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership has already been awarded £54.2 million from the Government’s Growth Fund for a number of key infrastructure projects. Along with the Kidderminster station revamp, some other examples include:

  • Worcester’s Southern Link Road
  • The Hoobrook Link Road (Wyre Forest)
  • Worcestershire Parkway Station

The £1.8 million allocated to GBSLEP is an expansion of its Local Growth Deal and was announced by the Government last Thursday (January 30) when Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership was awarded an additional £7.2million bringing the total allocation to £54.2 for Worcestershire’s Growth Deal.

Andrew Cleaves, GBSLEP board director with responsibility for transport and connectivity, said: “Following last week’s announcement concerning our Growth Deal expansion of £21.4m, it is great news that the Kidderminster Railway Station project can now get underway.  This is an excellent example of how neighbouring LEPs can work together successfully to support shared priorities for both their businesses and residents.

“This allocation of funding will enable these long awaited improvements to commence and this will go a long way to improving connectivity for the area, which is one of the key elements of the GBSLEP’s Strategy for Growth. In addition to the creation of jobs for the construction project itself, improved connectivity with the rest of the region will undoubtedly result in further job opportunities and ultimately increased growth.”

News that funding is now in place to get the station project off the drawing board will also delight rail user groups who have twice seen the scheme derailed since 2009, first by a government spending review and then later when a Regional Growth Fund bid was turned down.