Truck museum expansion planned

LOUISE BERWICK
Last updated 05:00 20/12/2013

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A major project that could boost Southland's tourism industry is in the pipeline.

The HW Richardson Group has been in talks with the Invercargill City Council about expanding its truck museum and opening it up to the public.

Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt is hailing the possible expansion as a "wonderful" prospect for Southland, which could boost the tourism industry and create jobs. "I think it will be the best thing to happen to Invercargill in 2014."

Mr Shadbolt said the company planned to have a cafe, expand its buildings and be open most days for tourists.

While nothing had been set in stone, the company had presented their plans "in confidence" to him and council chief executive Richard King.

Mr Shadbolt said talks had been going on for the past 15 years.

"That's why I am so excited," he said. "I just think it's unbelievable, especially now that we have hit a snag with our own museum. And I would say it has 10 times more potential than our pyramid museum would have."

Mr Shadbolt said the truck museum had already had an impact on tourism in the area, even with its "low-key" approach.

"Tourism may have the image of extreme sports but the reality is people like seeing the scenery and breathing the air and looking at museums.

"I would say that it is the best truck museum in the world, but that's not necessarily saying it's the biggest."

For most people, admiring the museum's collection had been by appointment only, so it would be great to see it opened to everyone, he said. "It's just going to be amazing."

Mr Shadbolt did not know when the museum planned to apply for consents but was confident it would go ahead.

"There's extensive renovation and they are still building up the collection as well."

Invercargill City Council building regulations manager Simon Tonkin said the group was looking at expanding its Anglem St premises but no formal consents had been applied for and it had not been taken to council.

HW Richardson Group director Jocelyn O'Donnell did not answer questions sent to her yesterday, but did release a statement.

"At this point in time our plans are purely conceptual as there is much to consider. There is consultation with many parties still to take place which is of upmost importance before any firm decisions are made."

The company had already been in talks with Venture Southland. Enterprise services manager Alistair Adam said the organisation had been providing business support.

 

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- The Southland Times

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