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Station in line for £500k revamp

By Caroline McMorran

A north business man has unveiled exciting and ambitious plans for a £500,000 redevelopment of the redundant Brora Railway Station.

Tain based Graham Rooney (36) hopes to establish a micro gin distillery, café bar, tourist information point and gift shop in the historic, Grade B listed building, which is owned by Network Rail

The move is set to bring a jobs boost to the wider area with the anticipated creation of up to 36 full and part-time jobs.

A high-powered delegation including Sir Peter Hendy, chairman of Network Rail and Bill Reeve, director of rail at Transport Scotland, were at the railway station last Friday to discuss the project.

Trained chef Mr Rooney has already completed a successful renovation of Tain Railway Station out of which he runs the Platform 1864 restaurant.

East Sutherland and Edderton ward councillor Deirdre Mackay said the proposed development was good news for the village and wider area.

She said: “I am absolutely thrilled that Graham is progressing his plans for the station building in Brora. This property has lain empty for many years and it will be so good to see it back in use.

“Graham has made a success of his business in Tain and we look forward to seeing this replicated in Brora.”

A number of attempts have been made through the years to breathe new life into the dilapidated and boarded-up Brora railway station, but none have been successful.

The 154-year-old property has been the target of vandals in the past and in a recent community consultation, Station Square was identified as one of the areas in the village requiring attention.

The single-storey, stone railway building comprises a general waiting room, former ticket office and small room behind it, a gentlemen’s’ waiting room, ladies waiting room, store room and toilets.

Mr Rooney is making a personal investment into the project but is also seeking financial support from Transport Scotland's Stations Community Regeneration Fund, Railway Heritage, Highland Council and Highland Opportunity.

It has taken him three years to reach the stage where his plans are now ready to be submitted to Highland Council for planning consent.

If planners give the go-ahead, he anticipates the redevelopment could be complete and the new businesses operational as early as March 2020. His brother Matthew Rooney will be the building contractor.

Mr Rooney said: “It’s an exciting project and one which will benefit Brora, creating new business and employment opportunities as well as training and development opportunities for young people.”

Cllr Mackay said: “Graham’s plans will bring this currently derelict building back into use and help make Station Square a vibrant location for visitors and locals alike.”

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