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Regional council’s company buys farms

MEDIA RELEASE

Regional council’s company buys farms for business park

For immediate release: Monday 17 May 2004

Environment Bay of Plenty’s commercial arm is buying several farms near Te Puke to help stave off predicted shortages of industrial land in the western Bay of Plenty.

Quayside Group currently has 130ha of land at Rangiuru under contract for purchase, says Environment Bay of Plenty chairman John Cronin. For commercial reasons, the exact location is still under wraps.

When the deal is finalised, the size of the land bank will have reached “the critical mass” for use. “This will mean that there is enough land for development purposes.” A key option is to develop it as a business or industrial park, Mr Cronin says.

SmartGrowth, the group responsible for managing future growth in the sub-region, has signalled a likely scarcity of land for industrial subdivision. “Yet opportunities to buy suitable land are disappearing quickly because of the rapid pace of development. We thought it was imperative to bank suitable land now so it is held for when it is needed. Otherwise we may well miss out altogether.”

Mr Cronin says the move is “an opportunity to use our funds as a catalyst for regional development”.

Quayside Group chairman Bryan Riesterer says the regional council or its subsidiaries will not necessarily develop the business park themselves. “The issue is not in the development but in prudently securing ideally situated land. We are not a developer but an investor.” The land will continue to be farmed until development occurs. If plans fall through, the properties can be re-sold.

Mr Riesterer says Quayside will now be looking for strategic development partners. “Clearly they could include neighbouring landowners, councils, private-public partnerships for roading, or a partnership with private investors and Tauranga City Council and Western Bay of Plenty District Council’s economic development agency, Priority One. In the long term, however, Quayside Group does not consider itself a major player in any of these options.”

Once it owns the land, Quayside Group will be discussing required zone changes with Western Bay of Plenty District Council, adjoining landowners and the community.

Quayside Group is the local authority group of companies that looks after the regional council’s shareholding in the Port of Tauranga. It also has an investment portfolio worth $65 million.

ENDS

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