The trustees of the Ashburton Heritage Trust have been forced to concede defeat in their efforts to save the station by bringing it into community ownership. It needed more than $580,000 to purchase the building but has just $80,000 committed in pledges and donations.
The station owners are Redson Corporation who applied for consent to demolish the building in 2008. This was declined. In 2010 Redson appealed the decision in the Environment Court and last year that court gave the trust breathing space to raise the funds needed to buy the building.
In spite of exhaustive efforts and three separate appeals to the community, the necessary money or a purchaser has not been found. The 1917 Troup designed station played a significant part in the social history of Ashburton up until 2002 when the last passenger train service, the Southerner, stopped running. The Ashburton station, although not grand, is one of only five remaining timber stations left on the main trunk line. Outwardly the station appears to be in need of major work, but the trust had a conservation report carried out earlier this year in which Ian Bowman described it as being in amazingly good condition.
The station has an A schedule listing under the Ashburton District Council’s district plan and a category II with Historic Places Trust. The Council has looked several times at purchasing the station but on each occasion has not been prepared to make a financial commitment to the project. The trust even had a tenant willing to lease the entire building if it had been able to purchase and restore.
With the trust pulling out as a possible purchaser, the station’s fate as a demolition project was almost inevitable although this would be up to the owners if or when the Environment Court grants permission.