Needham Market railway station is set to receive £380,000 in government funding to improve accessibility.
The announcement, by the Department of Transport, that the station is to benefit from funding through its new Access for All programme gives a further boost to Mid Suffolk Council’s plans to regenerate the town – and means that after a long local campaign, Needham Market can start to look forward to improved access to the station’s Ipswich-bound platform 2.
The application was part of a co-ordinated partnership approach between Greater Anglia, Suffolk County Council, Mid Suffolk District Council and the Needham Market Group.
Work on Mid Suffolk District Council’s new visitors’ centre at neighbouring Needham Lake is also due to start later this year – with the station improvements set to provide a safe, pleasant and accessible access route between the town and the popular beauty spot.
Gerard Brewster, the council’s cabinet member for Economic Growth said: “This is wonderful news, not just for railway passengers but for Needham Market as a whole. This funding complements our work to improve facilities at Needham Lake and also reflects our emerging vision for the town – bringing more visitors to the high street and improving connectivity for the whole area.”
The council now hopes to unlock further funding to support the improvements, with the possibility of a future Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) award in the pipeline and a Growing Places Fund to be submitted to New Anglia LEP in coming weeks.
In the meantime, campaigners have thanked local residents and partners for their support in winning the government funding for the station.
Access for All campaign co-ordinator Jen Overett said: “I am delighted by the news that Needham Market station has been granted this much-needed funding from Government. Full step-free access has been long-awaited and will make such a positive difference to our town and surrounding villages.
“Local residents have run a strong campaign, which began several years ago but has picked up renewed momentum in recent years. I’m very grateful to the whole campaign group, the thousands of people who have signed our petition and offered words of support, and the active backing of Mid Suffolk District and Suffolk County Councils and cross-party local councillors. I look forward to the work getting started and a fully accessible train station at last.”