The Gobowen Area Improvement Group (GAIP) have announced they had completed the purchase of the buildings on both the up and down platforms at Gobowen Station. The station buildings had been in private ownership for many years and were destined to be sold at auction, however intervention by Selattyn and Gobowen Parish Council with a Community Right to Bid application opened a path for the buildings to be secured for the community.
This acquisition provides the foundation for an ambitious project to see the historic station returned to a former glory whilst also providing a connecting rail service to Oswestry with intermediate stations at the Orthopaedic Hospital and tourism venues along the route. The development will also considerably enhance the employment opportunities within the local area, particularly in tourism and engineering within the railway spectrum of the project.
Through the Community Right to Bid process the group had to raise the necessary funding for the purchase and sought assistance from Three Parishes Big Local, the Big Lottery funded programme led by local residents that is investing in Gobowen, St Martins and Weston Rhyn.
Glenn Pennington, speaking on behalf of Three Parishes Big Local, said,“Three Parishes Big Local is always looking for ways to make the area a better place to live, and we were impressed with the innovative opportunities that the station buildings project offers for revitalising the local area.
Three Parishes Big Local provided a grant and a loan totalling £110,000 as part of the funding required.
The Oswestry Station Building Trust Ltd (OSBT) a registered charity and partner in GAIP have acted as the facilitator in the purchase. They will be the owner and financial partner in the management of this project and working within GAIP will now continue to plan the future development of the station buildings offering security of tenure for the existing tenants which includes Severn Dee Travel the not for profit rail agency who have run the booking office there for over 20 years.
Roger Date speaking for OSBT said that he was delighted to have played a part in the partnerships success and looked forward to assisting with the delivery of the community rail project along with the numerous other community opportunities for revitalisation of the area.
Sheila Dee, Community Rail Officer for the Chester Shrewsbury Rail Partnership also a member of GAIP said that the group had worked very hard to achieve this aspiration and had seen great support from stakeholders, the rail industry and the community. She commented, ‘the many hours spent working on this bid and compiling our business plan had been very worthwhile and made us far more prepared for challenges that were faced in raising the finances needed. The opportunity these buildings give this area are immense; already we have a staffed station through Severn Dee Travel and a station café managed by the Derwen College. Restoration of the once beautiful buildings will make the station the Gateway to the area once more.