RAILTRACK this week unveiled a multi-million pound scheme to change the face of Farnborough station.

The blueprint includes improvements to the forecourt, a new car park, landscaping and the construction of a prestigious office block and houses.

Railtrack has described the blueprint as "very exciting proposals for a key town centre site."

The scheme involves creating a new and larger bus-rail link, parking for the disabled and cyclists, an improved taxi rank and a convenient passenger drop-off area.

Land to the northern part of the site has been earmarked for a five deck park with room for 1,222 cars - an increase of 296 spaces.

The new car park would have a direct pedestrian link to the station. The link will be well lit and monitored by CCTV.

New footpaths are proposed to link the station more effectively with the surrounding area, and there are plans for a new footbridge accessed by a lift.

The 100,000 sq ft office building is planned for the west of the forecourt, to provide a balance to the existing Spectrum Point office block. And the new homes would be built along the Union Street boundary of the site, part of which would include the small council car park.

Kirsten Curie, Railtrack's senior southern sales surveyor, said: "Our plans not only benefit station users, but provide much needed new homes and a high quality addition to the town's office stock."

The proposed mixed-use redevelopment, he continued, was fully in line with Government guidance for making the best use of urban brownfield sites next to public transport facilities.

He added: "Our plans will significantly enhance the image that Farnborough presents to visitors arriving by train.

"Overall the benefits represented by this scheme are substantial."

Railtrack has submitted an outline application to Rushmoor Council planners, and it also intends to display the plans next month at a public exhibition at 75 Queensmead (almost opposite Dixons).

The dates and times for the exhibition are Wednesday 6 February (10am-5pm), Thursday 7 (12 noon-7.30pm), Friday 8 (10am-5pm) and Saturday 9 (10am-4pm).

Development team members will be present to discuss the blueprint on the Thursday between 3pm and 7.30pm, and on the Saturday between 10am and 4pm.

If there are no major snags, Railtrack hopes that building work will start sometime next year. The scheme will take about 18 months to complete.