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Spare rooms at Shawford Station set to become thriving community hub

The old station building at Hampshire’s Shawford Station will be transformed into a new community hub, thanks to a South Western Railway (SWR) programme that makes redundant spaces available for local people to use.

The building, which includes five rooms, a kitchen, and a toilet, has been leased to the Three Rivers Community Rail Partnership (CRP) for a “peppercorn rent” – in other words, for free. SWR is working with Three Rivers CRP on development of the space to benefit the surrounding community.

While no decision has yet been made on what the space will be used for, options on the table include a community café, a cycle hub and a base for a local cub troop.

The Shawford station building is the third redundant space in the Hampshire area that has been made available by SWR for community use, following an internal review of all buildings across its network.

At Petersfield and Swaythling stations, SWR buildings have been transformed into Free Shops, collecting food which would otherwise be thrown away, and redistributing it to people who can make use of it. At Netley station, an additional toilet has been made available to a local community group, while plans are being drawn up to reopen an old waiting room there .

SWR is hoping to hand the keys to more redundant spaces over to other community groups soon.

Mark Miller of the Three Rivers Community Rail Partnership said: “Having picked up the keys this week, we are excited about this project at Shawford. There is so much potential in the building, and we cannot wait to progress refurbishment and redecoration plans with South Western Railway. The use of this building and others across the network by local groups is really appreciated and we thank South Western Railway for making this possible.”

Jools Townsend, chief executive of Community Rail Network, commented: “We’re so pleased to be partnering with SWR to help them return disused station spaces to community use, and bring stations into the heart of communities. This type of work is especially important as we help communities to recover and build back better from Covid-19. We’re looking forward to supporting SWR and Three Rivers Community Rail Partnership to further engage and empower their local communities.”

Andrew Harrowell, SWR’s community rail manager, added: “Connecting people and communities is at the heart of what we do at SWR – that’s why we’re investing not only to improve our service, but also to support the communities that we serve.”