How not to design? New Southeastern station set to open next week

A new railway station in Thanet is set to open next week after years of planning.

The design leaves much to be desired.

This is Thanet Parkway. Being a Southeastern station it’ll be entirely unstaffed. Of course it is. Southeastern is the network run directly by government after all that today sees issues at 74 stations due to government funding cuts, with the vast majority being ticket offices closed and no staffing whatsoever.

Platforms at unstaffed new station

Southeastern have been something of a trailblazer for ticket office staffing cuts now proposed across the UK. Dozens of stations across the network are closed daily. It’s also the network that saw design cutbacks at Kidbrooke station in the midst of thousands of new homes. It would require paying for staff to monitor ticket gates.

There’s also Lewisham where a new station entrance was recently built as part of a tower development but never opened.

Being unstaffed at all times, Thanet Parkway would ideally at least have modest design elements with good site lines on approach and in the station to help prevent antisocial behaviour or worse, right?

Panels obscure visibility on approach and exit from station

But no, stairs to the platforms are entirely obscured by giant steel mesh panels. Even with budget constraints, opening views with glass or plastic panels within panels to enable views both in and out should have been an essential design feature.

Renders of the station earlier in the project showed a design that while far from great, enabled some visibility.

Not what was built

Panels along platforms also permit no visibility in or out of the station. Again, how hard to have transparent elements within these panels? An elementary design flaw.

Outside the station there’s also a mass of paving. Little greenery.

Outside as poor as station

Other issues include no buses calling at the station and no direct pedestrian access from housing to the south of the station.

Plenty would have liked to see far bigger and better designs at new stations but with budgets being what they are, let’s assume that wasn’t possible. But at the very least small design changes – making a negligible difference to the design and costs – should have been considered for passengers.

New stations are always welcome and let’s hope this is a trigger for more to use rail as well as much needed new homes nearby (currently the only new thing directly beside is a big new car park) but Network Rail really could do with improving basic design elements to entice rail usage – and particularly among vulnerable people and groups. This design fails at that basic test.

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J Smith

I've lived in south east London most of my life growing up in Greenwich borough and working in the area for many years. The site has contributors on occasion and we cover many different topics. Living and working in the area offers an insight into what is happening locally.

    7 thoughts on “How not to design? New Southeastern station set to open next week

    • Years of planning omg! They quite obviously didn’t ask the community, or simply ignored any input requested. It’s appalling. Akin to communist construction at its worst (even that had some good design in modernism). Mesh horrific as well as dangerous as you rightly point out. Lack of greenery is against all design concepts of today, which encourage green space. I’m sure ongoing budget dictated that, greenery needs maintenance, and we know from experience in RBG that that doesn’t happen, sadly. Importance of shade in anticipated heatwaves increasing through climate changes cannot be over-stressed, and that has none that I can see. Trees sadly missing. Probably a huge car park as no connection to public transport? No green elements in construction apparent, lots of concrete and tarmac. They are looking at car parks for income solely. Oh dear what is happening to this green and pleasant land?

    • I think an even bigger issue with Thanet Parkway is that it’s situated right next to local housing – yet has no easy pedestrian access to that housing, with the entrance on the ‘wrong’ side of the station: There doesn’t seem to be any convenient option but to drive to the station.

      New stations are usually welcome, but this one seems to be almost a complete waste of money 🙁

    • Well that should be an interesting station at night. I live in Herne Bay and it’s always the same idiots hanging around the station at night. Railway stations need to be staffed!

    • Considering that this station cost at least £34,000,000, surely some budget could have been found for a bit of greenery in an area that is losing more and more Grade 1 agricultural land to new housing developments?

    • I Believe there maybe another agenda as it’s very close to a former RAF base (Manston Airport) currently waiting on a judicial review to reopen. Allegedly 500m of private investors is going to transform the airport for cargo and passengers. Watch this space.

    • They’ll be hot platforms to stand on in the summer.

    • I’m all for unmanned and lower staffed stations, rail fares are insane and staffing is the biggest operating cost. If rail staff are to be paid a decent wage they need to be more sustainably deployed.


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