Supporters of a proposed riverside community park near
Luggate have been given a reprieve by Contact Energy in their
bid to buy land for the conservation project.
Yesterday, Red Bridge River Park promoter Lewis
Verduyn-Cassels made a formal request to Contact for a 60-day
postponement of the sale of a property next to the Clutha
River that he leases from the power company.
He wants to establish a conservation park on the site and
last week offered Contact $190,000 plus GST for the property.
That was met with a counter-offer from Contact of $300,000
plus GST, which Mr Verduyn-Cassels said he could not afford.
He had been given until 5pm yesterday to respond to the
However, a joint statement issued yesterday afternoon by Mr
Verduyn-Cassels and Contact said the parties had agreed on
Contact postponing the marketing of the property to provide
Mr Verduyn-Cassels with an opportunity to form a charitable
trust and raise the balance of the funds needed to buy the
''This is the progress we had been hoping for,'' Mr
''I'm sure many people will be very pleased to hear this
news. It's a significant gesture of goodwill on the part of
Contact Energy, and one which we genuinely appreciate.''
Contact was continuing to work with Luggate stakeholders to
decide which entity - such as the Queenstown Lakes District
Council or the Department of Conservation - it would gift a
neighbouring riverside property to ''in order to ensure it
can be used for the benefit of the broader local community'',
the statement said.
During the public forum at last week's QLDC meeting in
Wanaka, Mr Verduyn-Cassels said he was ''desperate'' to
secure his section as part of the proposed park to be put in
a trust for the community.
''It would be a very, very valuable community asset if we can
just proceed with it.''
District councillor Ella Lawton agreed the proposal could
have considerable economic value, as there was nothing else
like it in the Upper Clutha.
''It's a very commendable project that's worth a bit of
attention,'' councillor Calum MacLeod agreed.
The idea of asking for a 60-day postponement in the sales
process was raised by river park supporters at an annual
meeting of the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of
New Zealand last Thursday.