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Land earmarked for new Hayling Island railway depot

 

THE future of the Hayling Seaside Railway is looking more secure after a new site was agreed for its depot.

There was uncertainty over the future of the much-loved mile-long narrow gauge railway which brings 25,000 tourists to the island each year.

At the moment the depot is in the Funlands complex.

But the family which owns Funlands has offered the land to Havant Borough Council to be included in plans for future housing development.

There is no timescale on when, or if, it will ever be built on but it meant volunteers have had to find a more permanent base.

And, after much negotiation, the council has agreed, in principle, to set aside land at Eastoke 
Corner car park to lease to the railway.

But it will be subject to planning permission.

Bob Haddock, the founder of the railway, said: ‘I’m just happy the council has made a decision.

‘But it’s not over yet. There is still a lot to do.

‘We will be working with the council on this.’

At one point volunteers were told they had to quit 
the depot by December last year.

But they managed to negotiate an extension of the lease until a new piece of land was found.

Although there is an agreement with the council, the depot cannot go full steam ahead until planning permission is secured.

Then volunteers must raise the funds to build it.

There has been concern from islanders about the size and shape of the new depot.

Councillor Leah Turner, who represents Hayling East, said: ‘I have always supported a new safe and secure home for the Hayling Seaside Railway.

‘We’re looking forward to seeing an application with good design when it comes before the planning committee.

‘It is a great tourist attraction for Hayling.’

Meanwhile the heavy wind and rain has meant the railway has ground to a halt on several days over the last few weeks.

In some places the railway line is under a foot of water and is impassable.

Mr Haddock added: ‘We’ve had to miss quite a few days because of the weather but, compared to many people, we are incredibly lucky.’

The trains are open throughout half-term between Beachlands and Mengham Road Halt.

Call the duty manager on 07775 696912 to confirm.

 

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