A multi-million pound plan has been hatched to create business accommodation as part of improvements to a Northumberland town’s historic train station.
Greater Morpeth Development Trust is working on a scheme which would see empty offices and rooms at the town’s 167 year old grade two listed station redeveloped as workspace for up to seven small or start-up businesses.
The project would also see repairs and conservation work being carried out to the station along with improvements to toilet, ticket office and cafeteria facilities as well as opening up the site’s grand portico entrance.
The station was originally built in 1847 for the Newcastle and Berwick Railway Company, by renowned architect Benjamin Green, who with his father John was responsible for the design of Newcastle’s Theatre Royal, Grey’s Monument and Penshaw Monument.
Although a number of Green’s railway station buildings still survive along the East Coast line between Newcastle and Berwick, Morpeth remains one that continues to provide passenger facilities.
However, much of the station is currently unoccupied and in a state of disrepair.
The development trust is exploring what it describes as a ‘cocktail’ of funding possibilities to support its plans as well as preparing planning application submissions.
If the funding can be secured the trust hopes work can be carried out over the next 18 months to two years.
Chief Executive David Lodge said: “Morpeth station is an iconic building that is the gateway not just to the town but for many visitors to Northumberland.
“However, most of the internal space is currently used and externally the building looks run-down, giving a very poor impression to traveller.
“Any redevelopment would bring aesthetic as well as economic benefits by helping kick-start businesses through the provision of quality office accommodation.”
To date the project has attracted funding support from the Railway Heritage Trust, the Homes and Community Association’s project to support planning applications and Stobhill Northumberland County Councillor Ian Lindley.
Rental income from businesses moving into the station offices would be put towards the trust’s work.
The trust was also responsible five years ago for designing and project managing a scheme that ensured the 300 year old Vanbrugh designed Morpeth Town Hall is now a well-used modern facility whilst retaining and respecting its historic, heritage characteristics.
Chairman Doug Phillips added: “If our plans go ahead they will replicate what we successfully achieved at the town hall by bringing an important and historic link in the main rail transport network down the east coast of England, sympathetically up to modern standards whilst retaining all the mid-19th century charm and characteristics of the building.”