Contact Energy has
rejected Lewis Verduyn-Cassels' offer to buy a piece of land
near Luggate for the community, leaving the river
conservationist ''gutted'' and unable to meet the power
Mr Verduyn-Cassels made an offer to Contact on Tuesday to buy
one of its properties next to the Clutha River on which he
hoped to establish part of a proposed Red Bridge River Park
community conservation area.
Yesterday afternoon, Contact corporate communications manager
Shaun Jones said Mr Verduyn-Cassels' offer was
''significantly below several independent market valuations''
and Contact had provided ''what we believe is a fair
counteroffer along with a week to consider this''.
Mr Jones said Contact had at all times been ''fair, open and
transparent'' with Mr Verduyn-Cassels, who had now been given
his second extension to consider an offer from Contact for
the property, which he had leased since 1991.
Mr Verduyn-Cassels told the Otago Daily Times his offer of
$190,000 plus GST was ''all the money I can scrape
Contact's counteroffer of $300,000 plus GST - below the
property's market value of $395,000 provided by APL Property
- was ''significantly beyond what I can afford to pay to buy
this [land] for the community''.
''I'm gutted really, because I was hoping they'd want to work
with us and they've just given me seven days to give them
''My best effort is not good enough for Contact, and I
feel that I am letting the community down over this, because so
many people support our Red Bridge River Park plan.''
Mr Verduyn-Cassels considered the counteroffer ''very
unfair'' when a neighbouring property, also with no building
platform, sold earlier this month for $190,000, as shown in
the APL valuation.
That block was 1.79ha and therefore ''significantly larger''
than the 0.4ha site for he had made his offer, he said.
Mr Jones said Contact appreciated the community interest in
the use of the land and, in recognition, had ''gifted'' 2.2ha
parcels of riverside land on either side of the Luggate end
of the Red Bridge for community use.
Contact was still determining the most appropriate local
community organisation to give the land to.
''Mr Verduyn-Cassels' Red Bridge River Park Trust proposal
suggests Contact gifts all four blocks in the yet-to-be
established trust as public space for a community
conservation park, with Mr Verduyn-Cassels continuing to
reside on site at the existing dwelling as the river
keeper,'' Mr Jones said.
''It's important to remember that the Department of
Conservation has not identified any of these blocks of land
as having conservation values, but has done so for other
parcels of land we are selling in the Upper Clutha, which the
department is now in the process of purchasing.''
Mr Jones said the two blocks on either side of where Mr
Verduyn-Cassels lived were preferentially offered for sale by
Contact to current tenants and prior owners in the first
instance and had subsequently been sold, ''meaning the river
park as proposed is no longer feasible''.
However, Mr Verduyn-Cassels said this week the park could
still proceed with the gifted land, the property he had hoped
to buy and the wide marginal strip in between.