Amey with South Western Railway

Amey with South Western Railway

Social Value

MCA Awards Finalist 2024Background

There are over 2,500 railway stations in the UK. Beyond the largest 100 stations, generally situated in commercially valuable locations, there has been little investment in most stations in recent decades, other than essential operational upgrades. These underinvested stations sit in the heart of their communities and have enormous potential as community assets but are increasingly neglected.

The Challenge

The client’s problem was set by a railway franchise commitment which required it to allocate redundant spaces at stations for community use and specifically to:

  • Employ a Community Rail Manager to manage the commitment
  • Publish a list of Available Station Space not required for operational or commercial use but available for community uses
  • Assist prospective community tenants in accessing and securing third party funding to enable social enterprises to occupy and operate in the Available Station Spaces
  • Establish a Social Development Fund to assist works in Available Station Spaces

Our Input

As the client’s property portfolio consultants, we were tasked with supporting the project by:

  • Identifying station space to be made available
  • Engaging with community users to make them aware of the opportunities
  • Guiding community users to potential sources of funding
  • Coaching them through the requirements for landlords’ consent in a complex operational environment
  • Getting schemes open at stations

The client is a railway operator, and these are the areas where our complimentary consulting skills were relied upon by the client.
We used our core commercial methodology to identify space appropriate for community use and developed a community methodology to meet the remainder of the requirements. We identified three potential blockers that would make progress difficult for community organisations, namely:

  • The leasing structure
  • The approvals process for building alterations
  • Finding funding sources

We agreed with our client that we should work closely with community users, guiding them through these three challenging subjects. This included, for example, collating and submitting applications for technical consent on behalf of the community groups and closing out that process for them.


We have helped the project to open 20 community facilities at stations, all of which bring significant benefits to their local communities and all of the facilities continue to thrive and evolve, responding to developing community needs. Six more facilities are in the development pipeline.
One example is The Hub Travel and Tourism Information Centre at Petersfield Station.

  • A redundant parcel office became a multi-use community building
  • Volunteers encourage reduced carbon travel using the railway and local public transport
  • Visitors are given information about nearby attractions and the South Downs National Park
  • Three times each week the hub becomes a free shop supplied by volunteers collecting food from supermarkets, farms, community gardens and other donors that would otherwise be waste
  • The free shop includes previously owned school uniform swaps and a winter coats, hats and scarves exchange. Between 50 and 60 people visit the free shop on each opening

View the Amey Consulting profile in the MCA Members Directory.