Geoff Helisma |
Glenreagh station is in a state of disrepair and under threat of being demolished, however, a local community group, Glenreagh Rail and Station Preservation Society (GRASP), aims to restore it as a historical monument.
At the April 23 Clarence Valley Council (CVC) meeting, councillors unanimously resolved to direct the general manager (GM) to “investigate the possibility of [CVC] leasing” the Glenreagh Rail Precinct from the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) “and sub-leasing” it to GRASP.
The GM will also investigate if GRASP could lease directly from ARTC.
GRASP’s vice president David Murray pitched his not-for-profit group’s vision to councillors during ‘public forum’ at the March CVC meeting.
Councillor Karen Toms brought the issue back to the April meeting as a notice of motion (NOM), however, two parts of her NOM were excised during debate – investigate the probable costs and risks to CVC and report on the possible social and economic outcomes for the Glenreagh community – because they could prove costly to complete and, if ARTC does not agree to leasing the precinct, could have been unnecessary.
The GM’s report is due to be tabled at the July CVC meeting.
Meanwhile, GRASP’s vice president David Murray said he “admired” the councillors for their cautious decision.
GRASP is also making representations to CVC’s Heritage Committee and, irrespective of CVC’s ultimate decision, won’t be giving up on the initiative.
“We can still go to the relevant state and federal members and seek a heritage order on the buildings ourselves,” Mr Murray said.
Mr Murray provided councillors with a detailed business plan, which Cr Toms described as a “wonderful business proposal” that will most likely be further considered depending on the report due at the July meeting.
In preparation, GRASP has organised a prearranged $10,000 loan to create a barrier between the station and operational rail, stabilise the building and pay for safety training, and gained commitments from relevant trades to complete the work.
Mr Murray was confident that if the project goes ahead “there will be no cost to council”.
Previously, CVC has written to ARTC making a “strong representation … requesting that the Glenreagh Railway Station and surrounding yards (including the water tower), which is listed as an item of environmental heritage under the Clarence Valley Local Environmental Plan 2011, be added to their Section 170 Heritage and Conservation Register under the Heritage Act 1977”.
Councillor Richie Williamson’s August 2017 NOM was unanimously supported, however, ARTC has not listed the station, nor was any follow-up action taken by CVC.