A KEY scheme in the £11m project to regenerate and improve Chester Railway Station and its surroundings is due to be considered by councillors on Wednesday (October 15).
The Executive of the shadow Cheshire West and Chester Council will be asked to back a bid by Chester City Council, on behalf of the Chester Station Gateway Partnership, for a grant from the North West Development Agency (NWDA) of up to £1.5m towards £3m worth of improvements to platforms 4-7 at the station and to the overbridge which links the island platforms with the concourse and the exit and entrance to the station.
"This is a key area of the station, which currently underperforms as a welcome destination and rail facility for passengers arriving and departing from the sub region, North Wales and London,'' according to the council's prosperity portfolio holder Cllr Herbert Manley (Con, Abbey).
A report describes the station as "a key gateway to Chester and an important contributor to the vision of Chester Renaissance."
The scheme will involve work to two "historically significant" pavilion buildings including passenger toilets and train operating facilities, councillors will hear, the construction of a new central pavilion to provide ''a much needed waiting area'', environmental improvements including lighting, security and customer information and repairs and improvements to the historic pedestrian overbridge includin g surfacing, glazing, lighting and ensuring the bridge complies with the requirements for disabled users.
The bid was approved by Chester City Council, which leads on behalf of the partnership, in September last year.
Partners include Arriva Trains Wales, Cheshire County Council, the City Council, Merseyrail, Merseytravel, Network Rail, the NWDA, the Railway Heritage Trust, Virgin Trains and Visit Chester and Cheshire.
The scheme has already had £70,000 worth of funding from the NWDA which was used by Arriva Trains Wales to commission architects to work up details of the scheme.
Cllr Manley says the project would be carried out between 2009 and 2011.
The overbridge part of the scheme would be handled by Network Rail and work on the island platforms by Arriva Trains Wales.Š
It is likely that £2m would be spent in 2009/10 the remaining £1m in 2010/11.
Recommending the bid should be approved, Cllr Manley says it would enable an important part of the station gateway to be improved and to continue developments which have already been completed.
"It is vital to improve this key gateway to the City of Chester for visitors, residents and commuters,'' he argues.
Cllr Manley continues:"Without NWDA funding, the project will not be delivered and a significant part of the railway station scheme will be incomplete.
"The already secured match funding in excess of £1m would be at20risk of being lost because it has been offered on the basis of the proposed project".
The recommendation is due to be considered by the Executive at a meeting in Winsford on Wednesday evening.