New approval paves way for future development at railyards
The Rockhampton Railyards have been sitting vacant since June 2018 after Aurizon closed the facility, leaving 181 people out of work - but plans are mounting for the site to reopen.
The 31ha site was on the agenda of the council meeting last week and was approved for variations to the planning scheme, which will pave the way for future development.
The variations allow for a "mix of uses which will make a valuable addition to the employment and community fabric of the region".
The site is now approved to have a range of uses in the precinct.
Precinct 1 - Roundhouse
The oldest part of the railyards, this precinct contains the majority of the heritage buildings on the site, including the roundhouse building. It is envisaged this could be used for educational establishments, community uses and industrial uses.
Precinct 2 - Railyards
This industrial heart precinct has a range of viable existing structures and buildings and includes a parking layout that allows reuse and repurposing of many modern industry structures.
Precinct 3 - Industry Services
This precinct has a range of supporting uses that complement the railyards precinct. This area provides for larger footprint uses such as hardware and trade supplies, garden centres and warehouses.
Aurizon lodged plans for the variations in July 2019 and one submission was received during the public notification period in July 2020.
The submission was around whether the changes would lead to restrictions on Linfox's current operations or impede growth.
Linfox operates a freight terminal in the southern half of the site.
It was advised the changes did not affect the surrounding land uses.
It was also noted any future development triggering a development application would need to meet codes of the planning scheme.
Rockhampton Regional Council has maintained in-principle support for the redevelopment of the site.
The railyard site contains more than two square hectares of buildings and almost four square hectares of hardstand area.
The site's main purpose has always been as an operational railway workshop maintaining and repairing railway rolling stock.
The original workshops were established in the late 1870s with one of the first buildings built in 1877, being the partial roundhouse with seven stalls.
The site was further expanded in 1912 with the Rockhampton Roundhouse, the only full large circle roundhouse in Queensland, and one of two remaining in Australia.
The site was listed for sale through expressions of interest by Knight Frank in September 2020.
In October 2020, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk made a commitment if re-elected the Queensland Government would buy back the site which would in-turn create 500 jobs.
The Morning Bulletin reached out to Aurizon to get a status on the site and it was revealed the company was in commercial discussions on the sale of the facility.
Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke said there was a lot going on in the background for the project.
"There's a reliable pipeline of work coming in the next few years with the ring road and other major road projects, so by adding some rail projects to that mix, Rocky will also be better set up as a magnet for skilled workers and a place for businesses to invest," he said.
"The Palaszczuk Government announced a $600 million plan to build new trains in Maryborough, so Rocky is well positioned to be part of the supply chain to support that work.
"Tenders for that Maryborough train building contract closed earlier this month and our government is continuing talks with industry around the best way to create supply chains in regional towns to support it.
"Part of that discussion involves how the Rockhampton rail yard site could be used.
"Commercial negotiations between our government and Aurizon to purchase the site are continuing on that front."
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