Wayne Thompson

Wayne Thompson is a NZ Herald reporter.

Planned rail station tipped as big boost to museum

Roy Clare says the planned new station at Parnell would make Auckland Museum more accessible. Photo / Supplied
Roy Clare says the planned new station at Parnell would make Auckland Museum more accessible. Photo / Supplied

Auckland War Memorial Museum has declared its support for a proposed new rail station at Parnell, saying it would make the museum more accessible and help it to grow as a cultural and tourist attraction.

The support from museum director Roy Clare comes as Auckland Council works out how it, as the land owner, can respond to an urgent request to designate land at the edge of the Domain for railway purposes.

On Friday, the council's hearings committee appointed prominent local government lawyer David Kirkpatrick as an independent commissioner.

He will decide whether the designation alteration meets the legal requirements for a public hearing.

If the commissioner thinks the proposed works do not trigger the need for notification, then he will also decide whether the railway designation can be extended to a strip of land on the Domain's Parnell side.

He will consider the effects on part of the Domain, including archaeology, ecology, trees, earthworks and stormwater.

If he thinks the proposal should be notified, the council will have to appoint a hearings panel to consider the proposal.

Auckland Transport wants an early decision so KiwiRail can start work the week before Christmas on lowering a kilometre of duplicate line as the first stage of the $15.2 million project for a new station to serve Parnell and the Domain.

The agency says it can do the earthworks only when train services stop during the Christmas/New Year holiday month.

It lodged the application to alter the designation on November 9 - without getting landowner consent.

That has to come from the council's landowner working committee of four councillors, a member of the independent Maori statutory board and two members of Waitemata Local Board.

Because of the tight deadline, they have full authority to decide on whether to give land owner consent on November 28.

This will be relayed to Mr Kirkpatrick before he makes a decision, said regional and planning manager Penny Pirrit.

The landowner committee would decide the matter of how the designation's requirement for a strip of domain - 4m to 8m wide of the tracks - fitted with the Domain Act and the Domain Management Plan.

Principal planner David Wong said the proposed alteration was required in order to lower the existing lines and build retaining structures on the slopes.

Part of the existing rail embankment and the track sat outside the railways boundary and partly within the Domain. About 3090 sq m of domain land was involved.

Stage two of the project, within railway land, includes building two platforms, and pedestrian links.

- NZ Herald

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