Brandon railway station building used in Dad's Army saved for now after Greater Anglia's car park plan is quashed at High Court
Plans to demolish Brandon railway station’s 1845 ticket office, famed for being a location for Dad’s Army, have been put on hold.
Rail franchise holder Greater Anglia has seen its £1million proposal to upgrade the car park from six to 100 spaces and improve facilities quashed after a judicial review - with Breckland District Council having already passed the plan.
A High Court judge found the council had failed to apply the the legal test for what was railway land, and the proposal has been sent back to be redetermined.
Campaign group SAVE Britain’s Heritage, who forced the review, has welcomed the result. Executive president Marcus Binney said: “Many local people objected passionately to the demolition proposal, and some thought it was a lost cause.
The station offices closed in 1978 and have been empty since 2004, but SAVE hope the increased use of the station could see a demand for the offices to come back into use. The group will now work with the Suffolk Building Preservation Trust on new plans for repairing it - which has been backed by the Dad’s Army Museum.
Councillor Victor Lukaniuk, who represents Brandon Central on West Suffolk Council, previously branded attempts to save the building as pointless - saying the destiny had ‘been sealed’. After the ruling he commented: “Now the decision has been made to keep the building I will get behind any attempts to restore it, or put a heritage centre there. But I am not sure where the money is coming from and something needs to be done with it, as it is deteriorating.”
Greater Anglia has pledged to work with Breckland District Council towards a new plan to improve the station’s facilities.
A spokesman added: “The original permitted development consent was quashed, and the application has been returned to Breckland District Council to be redetermined.
“The original building has been disused for decades and, as a result, is in a poor condition - especially inside, with no original features still in place. The rail industry has never been funded or remitted by any government to restore the building and no fully funded third party scheme or business case has ever been put forward that would enable its restoration and ongoing use. We’ve worked with the community for a decade to find a viable solution, but no workable proposition has been found.
“More passengers are using the train to travel to Ely and Cambridge and beyond, with the introduction of new trains making rail an even more attractive option. Brandon is a growing town and we have seen the number of people using the station increase year on year. We want to invest in the station facilities to make it fit for purpose for both now and in the future.
“We are looking to invest £1million to both improve the customer facilities at the station and increase the number of car parking spaces from six to 100.
“We will continue to work with Breckland District Council to upgrade Brandon railway station for our customers.”
Stuart Wright, chairman of Thetford Dad’s Army Museum, said: "The Dad’s Army Museum is delighted about the decision to halt the demolition of Brandon Station.
"The station was used in the episode 'The Big Parade' and is visited by Dad’s Army fans from across the country. It also features as a location on the museum’s coach tours of locations around Thetford. Hundreds of Dad’s Army fans have been in contact expressing their delight at its reprieve.
"Aside from the Dad’s Army, the building is unique in its construction as it utilises the discarded cores from knapped flints that once were worked in Brandon. These vernacular buildings should be retained such that the character and architectural style of the Brecks area is preserved for future generations."