FEATURE: New station will be gateway to Doncaster's future

'‹Public squares, public art, housing and shops all feature in plans to transform the area around Doncaster Station.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 8th December 2016, 1:00 pm
Updated Wednesday, 14th December 2016, 12:33 pm
Public squares, public art, housing and shops all feature in plans to transform the area around Doncaster Station.
Public squares, public art, housing and shops all feature in plans to transform the area around Doncaster Station.

Plans that will help transform the area as the gateway to the town have been revealed by council bosses.

They are part of the wider redevelopment of the borough’s ‘Urban Centre’ and it is hoped they will help to provide a ‘vital new arrival statement’ about the town and its future direction.

Under the plans, the space to the front of the station - which is currently used as the station car park - will be renovated into an inviting, completely pedestrianised entrance as well as an open area with shops.

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A brand new public square will also be created just opposite, boasting a glazed canopy.

Opposite that there will be a public art area, which it is designed to improve the ‘visitor experience’ for those coming into the town.

The published plans also reveal plans to create another publish square, in front of the grade two listed Grand Theatre.

Documents describe a ‘new public square to enhance theatre frontage’.

A Government planning inspector recently rejected plans for a cinema at the Frenchgate Centre because they thought it would impact badly on the surroundings of the theatre and the listed station tickethall.

The station is operated by Virgin East Coast, who will work with the local authority and other partners to bring the multi-million pound revamp about.

Commenting on the plans, Paul Smith, Commercial Manager for Virgin Trains on its East Coast route, said: “Having a gateway that reflects what a great place Doncaster is, and how many opportunities it offers is really important.

“It’s too early for me to be able to go into a lot of detail about the plans, but what I can say is they’re very exciting and will really help to show Doncaster off.

“We’re pleased to be working with the council to deliver this high quality transformation of the station in Doncaster. This is a strategic connection point for Virgin Trains, and, we’ll be able to increase capacity on the network and have connections through to London every 20 minutes, following the introduction of our new fleet of 65 Virgin Azuma trains.”

Initial plans place the new station car park on land near to St James’ Car Park.

The council says it will acquire the land needed for the new car park through the ‘strategic acquisition of empty properties’ in the surrounding areas.

Green space around the car park will also be created to better improve the appearance of the area.

A pedestrian link from the train station to the car park is also planned.

Other improvements planned around the train station include an improved pedestrian crossing over to St Sepulchre Gate as well as an elevated entrance for the Sainsbury’s supermarket which will act as the frontage to the new public square.

An enhanced and shared public realm to West Street and St Sepluchre Gate West has also been designed by planners.

A new development is also planned for the front of the shared public realm to provide an attractive approach when viewed from the station.

Part of the funding for the train station entrance will be provided from the Sheffield City Region’s Investment Fund.

The plans for the train station entrance were revealed with the launch of the ‘Urban Centre Masterplan’ on Thursday when details of a further eight areas of Doncaster town centre earmarked for redeveloped were published.

Those areas are: the Enterprise Marketplace, Waterfront, Minster Canalside, Civic/Business District, Parklands, Retail Core, Innovation Quarter and the Waterfront Phase 2.

During the launch it was revealed that the plans are expected to take around 15 years to complete, with work due to begin early next year.

Work on the train station entrance will be one of the first parts of the plan to get underway.

Mayor Ros Jones, said of the plans: “I am delighted to be able to launch the Doncaster Urban Centre Masterplan.

A thriving centre is key to the success of any place but this does not just happen. There needs to be a comprehensive plan which is achievable and will make a real difference. That is what we have developed for Doncaster!

“We have been working very closely with David Lock Associates and partners to outline how the town centre needs to develop to ensure its future prosperity. The final document, which will be fully released in early 2017 will not only shape the planning and design of the town centre, but mark our intention for change.

“Doncaster is an ambitious place and we have delivered many successful regeneration projects over the last 10 years. We already have world class assets that cities across the country would aspire to have.

"These include our East Coast Mainline railway station, superb motorway links, the UKs fastest growing airport outside of London and attractions such as the Yorkshire Wildlife Park and racecourse.”

Chief executive of Doncaster Chamber, Dan Fell, says the plans, which will see nine key areas of the town centre re-vamped, will help to cement Doncaster’s status as a town on the up.

“We’ve seen some incredible development in Doncaster over the last few years with the airport, the link road and the iPort but it’s almost happened in a donut around the town centre,” said Dan.

He added: “It’s definitely time for the town centre to see some more development. Doncaster is experiencing significant economic growth and being recognised around the country as a place that is getting it right. However, key partners recognise that town centres are a bell weather of success and it is therefore important that we take steps to improve our town centre as that will impact positively on inward investment, business confidence and civic pride.

“This new master plan is a bold step in the right direction and whole heartedly supported by the Chamber.”

“We’ve been very heavily involved with the plans, and we really do have to praise the local authority for listening to the business community.

“What’s important now is ensuring that listening continues as the plans progress.”

Next year, along with the full Doncaster Urban Centre Masterplan, details will also be released about plans for regeneration in other town centres across the borough.

Mayor Ros Jones continued: “Next year not only will we be revealing the full Doncaster Urban Centre Masterplan but also information about how we aim to support other communities across the borough.

“Big things will certainly be happening in 2017.”

For further details of the Doncaster Urban Centre Masterplan click here.