WDC to purchase town landmark

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Wycombe District Council is going to buy the Brunel engine shed next to High Wycombe railway station as part of a wider programme to renew the area around High Wycombe railway station and along Easton Street (the Eastern Quarter).

In this week’s Cabinet meeting Councillor Steve Broadbent, Wycombe District Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Regeneration, set out the Council’s vision to create a station square as an important gateway into the town which would help unlock future inward investment in this part of the town. The regeneration of the area would enhance the station and benefit rail users, and could potentially provide facilities like a cycle workshop, showers for people cycling to the station, a cafe, storage and a business hub.

Chiltern Railways has made improvements to the station forecourt and created a new multi-deck car park at High Wycombe railway station in the last few years. However, on leaving the station, the next thing people see is a derelict piece of land surrounding a somewhat dilapidated brick building. The neglected building is in fact a Grade II listed engine shed built by the famous Victorian railway engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel in the nineteenth century. Despite its proud past, in its current state, the Brunel shed effectively blights investment in a key area in High Wycombe. It could, says Cllr Broadbent, be a focal point for a new station square.

The Brunel shed was in private ownership and used for commercial purposes up until approximately a decade ago when it was purchased by Chiltern Railways. Since then it has not been brought back into use.

Wycombe District Council has had discussions with Chiltern Railways but if it is not possible to negotiate a purchase, Monday’s Cabinet gave the green light to use compulsory purchase powers if necessary to secure the shed and surrounding land.

To make this possible, Cabinet agreed to take the first steps and start the process to buy the Brunel shed from Chiltern Railways using a compulsory purchase order (CPO) if necessary.

The Council want to bring the Brunel shed back into use as a facility for the people of High Wycombe and for visitors. Once it is in use, the Brunel shed, alongside commercial uses, could be used by community groups for events. It could also be a base for start-up business, for example food and beverage entrepreneurs.

The compulsory purchase process normally takes around 18 months. However, if Chiltern Rail do not object then it could be considerably shorter. Alternatively, Chiltern Rail could be in a position to negotiate a sale, in which case the process would be shorter still. It would probably take between 6-12 months to carry out the works needed to bring the Brunel shed back in to use.