Flyer set for downgrade

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A change to the Kingston Flyer’s historic listing might see the steam train puff out of the district.

A report will be presented to the Queenstown council at today’s meeting on the district plan’s heritage inventory.

The report recommends the “elements of the Kingston Flyer train set” – two engines, seven carriages and the station building – be downgraded from category 1 to category 2.

“Significantly, this places the possibility of removal … from the district as a non-complying activity,” the report says.

“In making this recommendation the long-term protection of the primary elements … is enabled, … but not restricted to this district, or a specific location in the district.”

The council’s planning and development general manager, Marc Bretherton, says the removal, or ‘demolition’, of a category 1 item is deemed a prohibited activity.

That means no consent application can be made to remove an item like the Kingston Flyer.

However, as a category 2 item, an application to remove it can be made.

“Any such application will still be subject to significant tests under the Resource Management Act,” he said.

The Flyer, owned by David Bryce, hasn’t plied the tracks for almost two years.

It was initially put on the market for $2.5 million before the asking price dropped to $2.1 million last year.

It’s still for sale.

The report, prepared by the council’s policy senior planner Tony Pickard, said an assessment was done by consultant Robin Miller – a director of Jackie Gillies + Associates.

It was then recommended the listing of the engines, carriages and station be downgraded.

One of the carriages, A 595, a gallery (birdcage) car, was a category 1 item in its own right – one of five built between 1899 and 1900 and the sole survivor.

But its underframe has been replaced and, as with the remainder of the train, its “historical authenticity” within the district plan was affected by its association with the district being only recent.

Another carriage has a history of vice-regal/ministerial use.

The engines were built in 1925 and 1927 and put into service in Kingston in 1971.

The seven carriages were built between about 1900 and 1923 and the station building was erected in 1973.

Generally, the ‘set’ is “in deteriorating condition and require repair and maintenance”.

The proposal is part of the council’s district plan review, which will be subject to full public notification later this year.

Kingston Flyer owner David Bryce and Tourism Properties sales agent Adrian Chisholm couldn’t be reached for comment.

Otago Daily Times