A NEW benefactor has revived long-dormant plans to transform a derelict station building into a cultural centre.

The Grade II-listed goods shed at Wivenhoe train station has been empty for decades and is shrouded in scaffolding and protective plastic sheets.

Community plans to convert the building into a cultural heritage centre had to be shelved in 2008 when the project stalled over issues including use of the car park.

But now, the Railway Heritage Trust, a grant-giving body which supports preservation projects on Network Rail land, has visited and announced it is prepared to financially back schemes for the building.

Andy Savage, chief executive, said: “I have been aware of Wivenhoe for some time and there was an opportunity to go and take a look.

“The building is not in brilliant condition.

“But if there’s a sustainable scheme for it I would be interested in giving a grant.

“Ultimately it is up to the owner, Network Rail, but in my experience the company is quite receptive with ideas put forward by the community.

“I’m prepared to give a grant towards the restoration.

“It would not be a 100 per cent grant for certain, but a reasonably substantial amount.”

After the scheme was shelved, the Wivenhoe Engine Shed Trust became the Wivenhoe Community Trust and attempted to acquire the St John Ambulance Hall in Chapel Road.

Chairman Peter Hill said the trust would dust off the old plans and see whether restoring the warehouse was possible.

He said: “I would certainly be interested in meeting Mr Savage and talking through how much money he was thinking of, to see if there was a scheme which is doable.

“There was a previous pledge of £100,000 to the scheme about ten years ago to bring it back into some sort of use.

“We gave up on it at the time because it seemed too difficult, not all of the money was there.

“It will take at least £750,000 to do something with the building.

“I know many people would like to see something happen with it, either pull it down or restore it.”

Mr Hill added much of Wivenhoe's focus and fundraising focus this year would be on the Philip Road Centre and he did not want to detract from that project.

A History

ORIGINALLY built in 1836, the shed was rebuilt between 1897 and 1901 after the first was destroyed by fire.

As the rail industry slowed it became unused in the Sixties, apart from ashort spell storing potatoes.

Grade-II listed and part of the Wivenhoe Conservation Area a planning application to extend it and use it as an auditorium was approved in August

However, despite a grant agreed by the Railway Heritage Trust, the project costs had risen too much and the extension was scrapped.