THE future of a seaside railway which brings joy to thousands of children a year has been secured.
It has taken two years of negotiations but the much-loved Hayling narrow gauge railway has been found a new home.
Its current base at Funlands has been included in Havant Borough Council’s homes allocation plan, meaning it could be built on if a developer comes forward.
A number of other options had been put to residents and Havant Borough Council for a new depot and now an application has been submitted to build one at Eastoke Corner.
Bob Haddock, who founded the railway 25 years-ago, said: ‘It’s fantastic.
‘It’s a great relief to get this far because it’s been going on for a couple of years now.
‘We can’t wait to look forward to working with the people of Eastoke Corner, to increasing business and bringing more prosperity to the area.
‘If we are granted planning permission we think it will be around September time.
‘We have an excellent crew who will be able to put the depot up and make it lockable within about six to eight weeks.
‘It will take longer to fit it out but we should be up and running by Christmas.’
The railway is owned by Mr Haddock but he is joined by a large team of volunteers to run it.
Ian Edwards is one of the volunteers.
He said: ‘The railway has established itself as a major player in the island’s economically important leisure and tourism industry.
‘Many believe the railway to have been a significant catalyst in the resurgence of Hayling Island as a viable tourist destination, inspiring a community confidence that has brought benefits to the area such as the Liveability Fund’s Eastoke Corner Plaza, and the adjacent Adidas sponsored Adizone outdoor gym.
‘The Hayling Seaside Railway and the volunteers of the East Hayling Light Railway Society look forward to continuing to work with its island friends and neighbours to create a facility that will be a credit to Hayling.
‘We want to ensure the long term security of this important community asset is properly safeguarded for the benefit of future generations of island residents, its business community, tourists and visitors.’
Representations should be made to the council by July 31.