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Wither Hills Draft Management Plan Ready

The future management of the Wither Hills Farm Park goes out for public consultation next week.

Last month Council approved the Draft Wither Hills Management Plan which replaces the current one from 2003.

The plan sets out a strategic direction which the community will have the opportunity to comment on from 10 June, Council’s Parks and Open Spaces Planner Linda Craighead said.

“The review of the existing plan began in 2022 with discussions by Council staff, iwi and key stakeholders, and last year the public was invited to provide their thoughts on future management options.”

“That process resulted in 92 responses with many useful suggestions and insights which were considered as part of the plan development process,” she said. “The Farm Park is an iconic and highly valued backdrop to Blenheim and the plan includes an overview of the key values of importance to the community and issues identified through the consultation process.”

Parts of the park, which covers 1,029 hectares, were originally bought by the Crown in 1944 to address soil conservation and that role is still the overriding priority for management today, Ms Craighead said.

Other key issues include providing recreational opportunities for a wide range of participants and activities, restoring native habitats, controlling pests, managing fire risk, protecting the landscape and cultural heritage of the area. Farming is an important management tool.

Three iwi – Rangitāne o Wairau, Ngāti Rārua and Ngati Toa Rangatira – participated in the review while Council staff, DOC, FENZ, the farm park lessee and representatives from the QEII National Trust provided valuable input, Ms Craighead said.

A hearings panel of councillors Brian Dawson, David Croad and Scott Adams has been appointed to consider submissions later in the year.

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