Joy as sale of car park called off

Mayfair Theatre manager Bruce Collier (wearing a wizard's outfit from the costume store for the occasion) celebrates a Dunedin City Council decision not to sell the Cameron St, South Dunedin, car park. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Mayfair Theatre manager Bruce Collier (wearing a wizard's outfit from the costume store for the occasion) celebrates a Dunedin City Council decision not to sell the Cameron St, South Dunedin, car park. Photo by Craig Baxter.

The Dunedin City Council has done a U-turn on its plan to sell a South Dunedin car park, and promised to do better next time, after community outrage forced a rethink.

The outcome has overjoyed those fighting the sale of the small Cameron St car park near the Mayfair Theatre.

The issue emerged last week, after the Mayfair learnt a neighbouring public car park on the corner of King Edward St and Cameron St, often used by patrons, was for sale, and tenders were closing just four days later.

The issue followed anger from Caledonian Bowling Club members after the council announced it would sell the Andersons Bay Rd land on which the 135-year-old club sits.

The council plans to sell up to 150 plots of surplus land and property over the next two to three years, in a move expected to raise about $10 million - money targeted for paying off debt.

Both properties were part of that plan.

Mayfair manager Bruce Collier had been collecting signatures on a petition this week, opposing the sale.

The petition stated it would have ''a negative impact on South Dunedin and those who do business there''.

Comments from signatories include ''arrogant'', ''stupidity'', ''silly'', ''stupid'', ''crazy'' and ''nuts''.

On hearing the news yesterday the sale had been stopped, Mr Collier responded: ''I feel overwhelmed, actually.

''I'd have to say it restores my faith in the democratic process.''

South Dunedin Business Association president Jane Orbell said the decision was ''great''.

''I think it's really good that they came to that decision.

''I think it was a very wise move.''

Council infrastructure and networks general manager Tony Avery said the council had considered the response from the Mayfair and others.

''We've reflected on the feedback and taken it off the market.''

He said the Mayfair should have been spoken to ''very early on in the process''.

For any future sales, he said the council recognised there was likely to be interest from nearby communities.

''We'll be thinking carefully about what consultation we might need around those things.''

Asked why the council would not identify the rest of the surplus land, he said it had yet to work through the decision process.

''We've had an initial list identified that are potentially surplus.

''We haven't done the work to figure out whether they are surplus or not, and so raising expectations or fear around potential sales is not of much benefit for the moment.''

Mr Collier said the theatre would be able to return to its major objective - the redevelopment of the theatre.

''We want to retain it as a community facility, and the side issue of the car park was placing that in jeopardy.

''Now that's been resolved we can go ahead with what we're really passionate about.''

Ms Orbell said some people had ''a few issues'' with the DCC, but ''I know that the council is trying''.

''Maybe it did need us to draw their attention to the fact that we've talked to them about the lack of parking.

''Maybe they're listening, which is a good thing.''

david.loughrey@odt.co.nz

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