On track to make Squires Gate station fully accessible

Squires Gate rail station is set to have access for wheelchairs and prams for the first time

Friday, 2nd July 2021, 5:23 pm

Fylde councillors have approved proposals to begin the process to compulsory purchase a piece of land to create a fully accessible platform.

The council says a step-free accessible route for passengers has been a long-term desire of both it and the South Fylde Line Community Rail Partnership.

As part of the development of the adjacent former Pontins site by Persimmon Homes, a footpath at the end of New Road was installed up to the end of the land which Persimmon owns.

The current only access to Squires Gate station
The current only access to Squires Gate station

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The Council made initial inquiries regarding the unregistered land in 2018 and identified a person who claimed ownership of the land.

The following year, the council agreed to purchase the land for £3,000 with fees of up to £2,000 plus VAT, provided that the claimed owner first register their ownership with the Land Registry.

Earlier this year, with no progress having been made in relation to the agreement of the sale from the assumed owner, Fylde’s legal team advised to start the process to obtain a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) for the land.

Fylde Council leader Coun Karen Buckley (right) with fellow ward councillors Coun Angela Jacques and Coun Delma Collins at the site of the intended access from the path into the station.

The power to obtain the land compulsorily is in a section of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, which covers land 'required for a purpose which it is necessary to achieve in the interests of the proper planning of an area in which the land is situate'.

Coun Karen Buckley, leader of the council, chairman of its finance and democracy committee, which approved the move, and also a local ward councillor, said: “At present, the only way to access the station platform involves a steep flight of steps from the top of Squires Gate bridge.

"My fellow St Leonard’s Ward councillors and I have sought a solution to this for many years. The re-development of the Pontins site was an ideal opportunity and a path was accommodated from New Road to the station which would make it accessible on the flat.

"A tiny strip of land now stands in the way of completing the project hence the need to go down the route of compulsory purchase which is fully justified in my eyes owing to the public benefit.”

Barrie Russell, volunteer and member of the Friends of Squires Gate Railway Station, said: “We have been seeking a solution for many years because we constantly see families struggle to negotiate the 40-plus steps with heavy luggage, prams and cycles, but more importantly we have seen disabled people look down the steps with fear and sheer disappointment at not being able to use the station.

"Once level access is in place it will open up new opportunities for everyone, including residents of the new housing on the former Pontins site.

"My fellow volunteers and the Blackpool and Fylde Rail Users Association wholeheartedly support and welcome the actions being taken by Fylde Council to facilitate level access to the station.”

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