Big plans for railway station

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Oamaru artist Donald Paterson has great plans for the newly purchased railway station, but needs to do a lot of maintenance and restoration before revealing them.

The Oamaru railway station was sold unconditionally to Mr Paterson for $1000 (plus GST) by the Oamaru Whitestone Civic Trust (OWCT) with the condition that he spends a minimum of $100,000 (plus GST), excluding labour, on maintenance and restoration over the next 18 months.

Mr Paterson said he wanted to bring life into the building but did not want to reveal his plans until he had completed some of the work that needed to be done.

“I’ve certainly got some great plans that I’m sure everyone would love to see.”

The 115-year-old building will need a lot of restoration work including levelling the floors and removing rot, he said.

OWCT chairman Peter Garvan said they wanted to sell the railway station to someone who would put heritage interests first and they believed Mr Paterson would do this.

“We’re thrilled that the buyer has a track record in Oamaru.”

The trust hopes Mr Paterson will receive support and assistance from the public to help rejuvenate the building, Mr Garvan said.

A heritage covenant has been created for the building which has three important conditions, including banning demolition of the railway station, ensuring the building is maintained and that its appearance is retained as the Oamaru railway station and that public access to the foyer is preserved, the chairman said.

The sale would be settled seven days after the covenant was registered with Heritage New Zealand.

“We think the heritage covenant is very important.”

It would also bind anyone who bought the property in the future, he said.

A clause in the sale agreement states that chattels and memorabilia including photographs and the railway clock are exempt from the sale but that they are available for Mr Paterson to use at no cost.

Another clause of the contract stipulates that if the buyer decides to sell, the trust gets a first right of refusal.

Subject to insurance approval, Mr Paterson is likely to take possession of the property within seven days, Mr Garvan said.

The Oamaru Whitestone Civic Trust had previously received a conditional offer from a Wellington buyer in May last year but the sale fell through.

The railway station was designed by New Zealand Railway Department architect George Troup, who also designed the Dunedin Railway Station.

By Ruby Harfield