Access to the Squires Gate Station platform is currently a steep set of steps and as such is inaccessible to those with mobility issues, wheelchairs or prams.
It has long been a desire of Ward Councillors and the South Fylde Community Rail Partnership that some form of inclusive access be created.
In 2018, following the development of the Costal Dunes housing on the former Pontins site, officers established that an accessible route to the platform may well be possible from New Road but this required acquisition of a small patch of land. No evidence of ownership of the land was forthcoming and so the Council agreed to move forward to obtain a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO). Following the statutory period of time for notices and objections, the CPO was sealed and submitted to the Secretary of State for confirmation and was received at the end of November 2022.
The next step in the CPO process is for six weeks’ public notice to be given of the confirmation of the order, which is currently underway, followed by the service of a General Vesting Declaration which comes into effect 3 months later. At that point the land will become the property of the council.
Cllr Karen Buckley, Leader of Fylde Council and ward councillor for the area, said:
“Although the progress of this particular project has been lengthy, it does now feel that we are nearing the end of the legal process and will soon be able to move ahead with plans to create a platform that will be accessible to all. As a key gateway into St Annes, it is crucial that we provide this to enable all people to get on or off the train at Squires Gate. I look forward to seeing the designs come forward for the new pathway, lighting and signage in order to complete the project in 2023.”
While the CPO process has been ongoing, Lancashire County Council’s Rail Development Manager has been negotiating with relevant parties, including Persimmon Homes, to ensure the access can be formed as soon as possible once the land is obtained by Fylde Council.
They have advised that outline designs have been produced and have provided outline costings for the new level access path.
Options to deliver the works with Network Rail, Northern Trains, and Persimmon Homes are currently being evaluated with an agreement to be sought between the parties at the earliest opportunity.
Although a timescale for the carrying out of works cannot be provided at this time, all parties are committed to completing this access as soon as possible.
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