Heritage concerns over new railway rain shelters

Adele Colman from Blackheath Chamber of Commerce, Linda McLaughlin from Blackheath Alliance and Leura architect Ian McMillan in front of the already-dug footings at Leura railway station. The shelters are still in the design stage.

Adele Colman from Blackheath Chamber of Commerce, Linda McLaughlin from Blackheath Alliance and Leura architect Ian McMillan in front of the already-dug footings at Leura railway station. The shelters are still in the design stage.

Steel rain shelters planned for Leura and Blackheath stations will ruin their historic value, according to locals opposed to the plans.

Barry Jarrott, president of the Leura Village Association, said part of the appeal of the Mountains stations lay in their heritage buildings.

"We have a point of difference up here. People feel like they have stepped back in time when they arrive - this will change all that," he said. "Why are they trying to suburbanise it?"

The association would prefer the money was spent on having the toilets and waiting room opened longer. At the moment, they are locked at 4pm when the station master leaves and they are not open at all on weekends.

"For a premier tourist destination that's a bit limited, I think," Mr Jarrott said.

Footings for the new shelter were dug at Leura earlier this month, despite the fact that there are no drawings of what it will look like.

Mr Jarrott said he was told that plans had been drawn up but had to be changed because they failed to take into account four historic lamps at the station, nor the large tree that dominates one end of the platform.

Leura architect Ian McMillan is so dismayed with the proposal he has written a seven-page letter to Transport for NSW, outlining his concerns.

He said he was worried that the footings were poured before the design was finalised and he also believed that there was plenty of shelter already with the overhang of the station's roof and the waiting room.

Mr McMillan said the whole idea was "a waste of taxpayers' money", which could be spent on more pressing needs, such as access for people in wheelchairs or those with prams.

"If it is a matter of providing for the handicapped and the visually impaired and helping to make their life a lot easier versus a few commuters getting wet for 10 minutes, I will opt for the former every time."

Blackheath Chamber of Commerce spokeswoman Adele Colman said the chamber, along with the Blackheath Alliance, both felt that proper consultation had not occurred.

"We feel that it is imperative that due process is carried out."

She also said there were other things that could be done at the station.

"They could extend the parking area, tidy the area up, do a little landscaping and then they'd have more people travelling on their trains, not less," she said.

A spokeswoman for Transport for NSW said canopy designs for Blackheath, Leura, Springwood, Blaxland and Lithgow stations were now underway and would take into account the heritage aspects as well as consultation with Blue Mountains City Council.

"Some early sketches were used as part of initial consultation with stakeholders," she said. "When the designs are completed, they will be made available to the community before major construction starts."

Labor's candidate for the Blue Mountains, Trish Doyle, said she had been contacted by commuters upset about the changes.

"People tell me that this money would be better spent on restoring the Westmead service which was cut from our timetable, for example, or maintaining and cleaning the trains," she said.

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