Saga over Hayling railway depot could be resolved at last

Bob Haddock, duty manager at the Hayling Island Light Railway. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (141119-462)
Bob Haddock, duty manager at the Hayling Island Light Railway. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (141119-462)
Kirsty Craven with her five-month-old son Freddie at the house in Fisher Road, Bridgemary

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THE future of Hayling’s seaside railway is set to be secured as plans to build a new depot have been supported by council officers.

Plans for a new depot look set to go ahead as councillors on Havant Borough Council’s planning committee have been recommended to approve them.

The plans propose an extended train track and a new building in Eastoke Corner.

This would be the base of operations and store locomotives.

It may serve as a heritage centre at a later date.

It comes after considerable controversy over the location of the new depot after railway bosses announced they needed to find a new home.

The depot is currently at the funfair.

Bob Haddock, owner of the railway, said: ‘I’m very pleased that it’s going forward with the council’s recommendation as we know the railway brings much pleasure to so many people.

‘We have worked with the local community a lot to make changes and make it better and more acceptable to the people of Eastoke. I hope we have satisfied their fears.’

But plans to extend the seafront attraction have seen a mixed reception from residents.

A total of 52 objections have been submitted to the council, including concerns over how noise and fumes may affect local residents and businesses, as well as reduce the value of homes nearby.

The railway’s planned site would see the attraction at risk during extreme flooding, but the owner has signed up to the Environment Agency’s flood warning service as a precaution.

The plans could result in the loss of around 15 parking spaces in a car park that has a current capacity of up to 180 cars.

Despite this, there were 33 letters of support and positive feedback from the community surrounding the railway’s development.

There are hopes it could bring more visitors to the island.

The planning report found the new depot would be ‘appropriate to the character of the Beachlands area as a tourist destination hub’.

A final decision will be made on Thursday.