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Council buys bush-clad land to add to Town Belt

NEWS RELEASE
15 November 2007

Council buys bush-clad land to add to Town Belt

A land purchase by Wellington City Council this week will protect almost a hectare of regenerating bush adjacent to Tinakori Hill in Wadestown.

The land is part of the Rangiohua block, which was jointly purchased in the 1970s by six local residents who were keen to prevent it being built on. At that time most of the owners lived at Salisbury Garden Court, a housing enclave adjoining the block, but over the years all but one has moved elsewhere. Salisbury Garden Court is a group of 16 houses built from 1929 that are clustered around a communal tennis court.

The Council’s Environment Portfolio Leader, Councillor Celia Wade-Brown, says residents who had moved to the area in recent years approached the Council in the late 1990s concerned that the land, which is zoned Outer Residential in the District Plan, could eventually be sold and developed.

“As a result, the Council agreed in 2000 that staff should try to purchase the land so it could be added to the Town Belt. However, its different owners had differing aspirations and it wasn’t until this year when the group decided to tender the land in three blocks that we were able to make any progress,” she says.

“We were interested in the largest of the three blocks, which included the land adjacent to the ridgeline and Town Belt and purchasing it was the best way to protect this area long-term. Anyone with a view of this land may already think it is part of the Town Belt, so it is great that it is now public land.”

The Council approved the purchase price of $140,000 (including GST) at a meeting last week and agreed staff should move to have it classified as Reserve, re-zoned Open Space in the District Plan and officially added to the Town Belt once legislation allows. From now on the land will effectively be part of the Town Belt but it can’t legally be added at this stage because neither the original 1873 Town Belt Deed nor other Acts that govern the Town Belt provide a clear procedure for the addition of land. It is hoped future legislative changes will provide a mechanism for this to happen.

Cr Wade-Brown says the importance of the bush has been recognised and valued by local residents for decades and in recent years the community has been actively planting native plants in the area, most of them supplied by the Council.

“Anyone planting in the future will be able to do so in the knowledge that the trees are not only adding to Wellington’s biodiversity but will be around for others to enjoy for generations to come.”

ENDS

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