NETWORK Rail has blamed council bureaucracy for lengthy delays in creating more car parking spaces at Chester Railway Station.
Extra spaces are desperately needed to cope with the upsurge in demand generated by increased Chester-London Virgin services which sees commuters struggling to find somewhere to leave their vehicle.
Now funding arrangements are in place for a £7.5m seven- storey 400-space car park on the existing west car park next to Hoole bridge, with planning and listed building consent applications expected in late summer.
Network Rail spokesman Keith Lumley said the relationship with the council, now Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWAC), was now ‘the best it has ever been’ but admitted there had been ‘long and difficult negotiations’ with the former Chester City Council.
“Some of the difficulties we have faced at the various meetings we have had over months, if not years, is they have said things like ‘we don’t want stone, we don’t want brick, we don’t want glass, we don’t want wood, we don’t want plastic and nothing too colourful’.
“Effectively, the only thing left is steel,” added Mr Lumley, who said regeneration body Chester Renaissance had also been involved because of ‘grand plans’ for the station area, including a hotel.
A Cheshire West and Chester Council spokesman said: “The council and Network Rail are working together to produce a design which will complement the historic and listed railway station and be sympathetic to a vital gateway area to the city.
“We agree with the need for more parking spaces, particularly with the expansion of Virgin rail services between Chester and London.”