Byron GM Gainger’s Rail Corridor Idea
Byron shire’s general manager Ken Gainger has urged locals to look into tapping the potential of Byron Bay’s ‘unloved’ rail corridor for community use, while future proofing it for a return of a rail service.
Mr Gainger wants locals to ‘reimagine a space and take it from unloved and unlock its potential for community use’.
The GM said that ‘in the heart of the Byron Bay town centre, sits a strip of land that could foster creativity, provide a spot to rest, a place to have fun and become a launching pad for emerging local businesses’.
Mr Gainger said the central site offered many opportunities and he was keen to ‘start the conversation with residents to reimagine how the unloved rail corridor could connect town’.
‘The rail corridor is a central town asset that has enormous potential to be reimagined whilst at the same time keeping the railway tracks and future proofing the corridor for the return of a rail service,’ he said.
‘The opportunity is how can we use the space now and give people a reason to park out of town and start our Masterplan journey of pedestrianising the centre.
‘What could we do if we took down the fencing and opened up the green space with parkland, boardwalks and used temporary infill between the tracks to create pathways?’ he asked.
The Byron Bay railway corridor was identified within the Byron Bay Town Centre Masterplan as catalyst site for improvement and pedestrian connectivity.
Mr Gainer said Council has been engaging with relevant government agencies that own and manage the rail corridor and they had been supportive of the Masterplan corridor initiatives.
‘As a result, a concept design for the space has been created to further develop the community conversation on how the site might function,’ he said.
‘It looks at how the corridor can connect the Butler Street Reserve whilst activating the site with infrastructure that could easily be removed if the rail was to return.
‘Plus creating car and bus set down points to give motorists another option instead of parking in town.
‘A strong element of the concept is the retention of the rail infrastructure and the opportunity for light rail with a drop off point at the southern end, connecting to Bangalow.
‘With a simple beautification program, it could become a place for run children to run and play. For people to cycle. For entertainment,’ Mr Gainger continued.
‘Provide an educational focus on the wetland corridor and tell the history of the railway line and the important economic and social role it played.
‘And with an area for pop-up shops and the creative use of temporary structures, the site could support emerging local businesses and employment,’ Mr Gainger.
Mr Gainger said he was keen to hear community feedback on the railway corridor, an asset not owned by Byron Shire Council.
‘Let’s start to build a picture and unlock the community potential at the railway corridor,’ he said.
‘With a strong voice and concept plan, we can confidentially start the conversation with State Rail and deliver a revitalised space,’ he said.