Judicial review saves 175 year old station from ” unlawful” demolition by privatised rail company for a car park
When Save Britain’s Heritage appeared before Mrs Justice Lang to argue the case for saving Brandon Station it was almost a lost cause. But the judge who is pretty independent and also recently granted a judicial review to women born in the 1950s so they could seek compensation for the rise on their pension age was not be put off.
Breckland Council in Norfolk had already given the owners Greater Anglian railways the go ahead to demolish the booking hall that had been empty and boarded up for 16 years so they could create a 100 space car park for commuters to Norwich, Cambridge and Ely. The scheme would have cost £1m and was accepted by the Railway Heritage Trust.
The station on the Norfolk /Suffolk border is becoming busier as more rail services are introduced. The town itself is a mixture of historic flint buildings and sprawling estates and has strong military connections because of the nearby Lakenheath and Mildenhall air bases.
unlawful development certificate
But when the judge started examining the case she found the development certificate issued by the council was unlawful because the scheme appeared to encroach on land not owned by the private rail company because of irregularities in the boundaries of the site.
She was not impressed by the council granting permission while the building was being considered for listing. It has since been listed.
The railway station building is constructed of local knapped flint, gault brick and slate to a design by Victorian architect John Thomas in 1845. Mr Thomas had Parliamentary connections as he who was appointed the superintendent of stone-carving at the Palace of Westminster by Sir Charles Barry. when Parliament was rebuilt. He was also commissioned by Prince Albert for stone carving work at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle.
Local people have archive coverage of a Royal visit by King George VI and the Queen Mum to Brandon station in the second world war. There is a website by Darren Norton about both world wars here.
There were also many foreign troops stationed there. Here is a picture of Polish troops in 1946.
Also the station and the town of Brandon were used for an episode of the iconic BBC series Dad’s Army. See here.
Marcus Binney, executive president of SAVE Britain’s Heritage said: “This shows that determination, persistence and resourcefulness can bring back historic buildings on death row. We have already commissioned plans by the architect Doug Reid, obtained initial costs from builders, and will now be working with the Suffolk Building Preservation Trust on raising finance.”
The most recent press release from them is here.
The aim is to restore the buildings as local business units with a cafe to encourage new start ups in the area.