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Highams Park Signal Box (uses considered)





Inside the signal box
Interesting views in all directions.
 

  The Signal Box - What uses were considered?

The full story of Highams Park Signal box (including the successful outcome) can be read by following this link: The Story of the Signal Box

In that story you'll see that various uses were considered by The Highams Park Signal Box Association for the redundant box. The text below dates from a webpage dated November 2008 and shows the ideas being considered:

***************** Extract from webpage dated November 2008 ****************************

The Association’s main objective was to save the box from demolition as a well-known local landmark. There were a number of ideas for potentially using the inside of the box and the Association awaited responsibility to be formally handed to them.

After some considerable time, Network Rail finally presented the Association with a draft lease to sign. This would have made the Association will liable for costs associated with the box, such as public liability insurance and maintenance. These costs could be considerable, and the Association could not sign the lease until a reliable revenue stream had been identified which would cover them. Grants would also be needed for significant internal works to tidy up the interior and to install a staircase and washroom.

So the question was, "where could the Association find a reliable revenue stream to cover its costs?" Unless it could find an ongoing grant, the obvious answer was to hire the box and use the fees to cover the Association’s costs. But to who, and for what purpose?

The inside of the box is small. It is essentially one upstairs room which is not accessible to the physically disabled. The downstairs would comprise mainly a toilet, the staircase and a small storage area. To compensate for the small and awkward space, the box has some genuinely unique features: a marvellous central location, superb views and the sort of place that would draw people to it because of its unusual nature and "to see what it is like".

The following uses have been considered by the Association:

Community Use?

It had always been assumed that the box would be used as a community resource (essentially a "Meeting Room") and Network Rail’s proposed lease states this. This is a nice idea in theory but it will need a committed individual, or a team of people, to administer it - taking bookings, handing out keys, collecting rental fees, and checking that the room was left secure and tidy. And the revenue generated is unlikely to be sufficient to cover the costs.

Office space?

Making the space available to a local business could be a good option. It would generate sufficient revenue and avoid administrative tasks for the Association. But, the space is then private and not accessible to the community, and may require changes to the proposed Lease.

Cafe?

The use of the box as a café is quite attractive. It has similar advantages to the "office space" idea but means the space is accessible to the community (for the price of a cup of tea). Unfortunately we have not found a local proprietor interested in this idea, and the area is already fairly well served by cafes (although not with such a unique vantage point).

Safer Neighbourhoods Team Office?

We explored the idea of using the box as an office for the Safer Neighbourhoods Police Teams. This seemed an ideal solution. A central location for the police, a revenue stream for the Association and the building accessible to the public to visit the SNT for a chat. Unfortunately closer examination by the police determined that it would be too costly to make the building sufficiently secure.

Whilst the inside of the box needs substantial work to make it habitable, the positive side of this is that it is effectively a "blank sheet of paper" and can be customised exactly to the requirements of a future tenant.

***************** End of extract from webpage dated November 2008 ****************************

The full story of Highams Park Signal box (including the successful outcome) can be read by following this link: The Story of the Signal Box

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