On track... Mataura ward member Neville Phillips stands outside the former Mataura Railway Station, which could soon be in the Gore District Council's hands. PHOTO: MARGARET PHILLIPS

The Mataura Railway Station could soon be in community ownership, and residents are being asked for ideas for its future use and location.

KiwiRail is willing to sell the building for $1.

The Mataura Community Board has been the driving force behind gaining ownership and developing the historic railway station, which is listed as a category 2 historic place by Heritage New Zealand.

KiwiRail informed the council that it no longer needs the building, which is in need of repair, about two years ago.

The community board was keen to see the station, built in 1921, retained and restored in the town.

Board chairman Alan Taylor said the board wanted ideas for its potential use so a plan could be developed.

He was also keen to gauge ideas about where the building could be located within the town.

While the building could be bought, the land could be leased only, and therefore relocating the building would give permanency to the project, he said.

“There has been a good amount of interest already shown.”

Ideas such as providing retail and office space as well as a heritage centre had already surfaced, he said.

There was an opportunity to attract people passing through the town into the redeveloped station.

“The passing traffic through Mataura is huge.”

To develop and restore the building, which was in need of attention, would require the involvement of the whole community, he said.

Mr Taylor believed the retention of the building in Mataura was important for the community, as it was an integral part of the district’s history.

KiwiRail manager property strategy and investment Stephanie Campbell said in a letter to council chief executive Steve Parry that if the community wished to enter a long-term lease to upgrade or maintain the building in its current location, KiwiRail would need to preserve flexibility for future rail and safety requirements.

“Any lease would therefore be inclusive of a 12-month resumption clause for rail purposes, and would also be at a commercial ground rent for the underlying land,” Ms Campbell said.

“We believe the best outcome for KiwiRail and to secure the building for future generations would be removal off-site,” she said.

The station has been classified as earthquake-prone, due to the state of repair of the chimneys.

Mataura ward councillor and board member Neville Phillips said it was imperative to have the community fully involved in the decision-making.

The first question was did the community want to retain and redevelop the building, Cr Phillips said.

“The community needs to be properly involved in this one.

“It’s a part of Mataura’s heritage. It’s an iconic building. There’s only one in existence in New Zealand,” he said.latest RunningTHE SNEAKER BULLETIN