Green light for Bay of Islands railway project
The Bay Of Islands Vintage Railway is rapt the resource consent for a new railway station and cycleway complex to be constructed in the Far North has been granted.
The project involves restoring and extending the railway line from Kawakawa to Opua, and creating a cycleway alongside it, and building a large multi-purpose railway station complex at Beaufort St, Opua in the area locally known as the Colenso Triangle.
Now the hunt is on to find funders for the $5.2million project, with private investors, large grants and loans all welcomed.
Vintage Railway spokesman and project chairman Frank Leadley says it’s a ‘‘huge plus’’ for the whole region.
‘‘We can now proceed with confidence with gaining funding for the restoration of the North Island’s historic first railway line and in developing a tourist complex which will be huge for the region in terms of employment and in its intrinsic interest.
‘‘We have a massive job ahead of us...but we have great community support and are confident we will reach our targets.’’
The process started in October 2016 and submissions closed in November. There were 121 submissions received by Northland Regional Council and 113 by Far North District Council, which were overwhelmingly in support of the railway proposal.
However, there were a few submissions which expressed concerns over effects of the development on a small area of swamp and any bird life, and cultural and historic effects.
Submitters had their say at a two-day hearing in April conducted by Dr Rob Lieffering. Lieffering’s subsequent report approved the project with conditions
‘‘It's one of the biggest tourism projects in the North.’’
relating to storm water, sediment control, weed control and archaeology.
Leadley says the repiling of Longbridge should be finished in three weeks. Then, depending on funding, they’ll start work restoring the railway line and building the cycleway. The station complex will include toilets, a cycle repair and hire shop, a cafe, event centre and parking for 60 cars plus buses and motorhomes.
‘‘It’s one of the biggest tourism projects in the North, if not the biggest,’’ Leadley says.
If anyone ‘‘can spare a few bob’’ contact Frank 09 402 7650.
An artists impression of the new railway station at Opua.
Frank Leadley at the Colenso Triangle site.