Concern at not buying gold land

Cade Thornton.
Cade Thornton.
The Cardrona community has been ''really let down'' by the Queenstown Lakes District Council, which failed in its bid to buy abandoned sections in the village, a local publican says.

Cardrona Hotel co-owner Cade Thornton's views were echoed by developer Kathy Brooke-Lynne, after the Public Trust confirmed the sale of five abandoned goldmining sections across from the hotel which had been earmarked for a village green by the council.

The council's tender to buy the land from the Public Trust, which could not trace the original owners, was unsuccessful and the sites were sold to Wanaka developer Lane Hocking, who owns two farms in the Cardrona Valley.

Mr Thornton, who also put in a tender on the car park sections, conceded the council had done all it could to buy the land for the community during the tender process, but more could have been done before that stage, he believed.

''I think that they [the council] should have been far more proactive in designating it [the land] car park a long time ago and I think the whole community feels really let down.

''If they didn't have enough money I'd have happily put money in to up their bid. They never came to me and had a discussion ... they should have come to us.''

Ms Brooke-Lynne, who owns the land between the car park sections and the Cardrona River, was ''really disappointed'' the council was unable to secure the land for the community.

''We've been waiting on the Public Trust to sort out those titles for several years on the understanding that the council would purchase them once them once they were available ... nothing could be developed with certainty when you didn't know what would be in front of it.''

However, Ms Brooke-Lynne said she had a good working relationship with Mr Hocking, who had been ''extremely helpful and supportive as a landowner'' on other community projects.

''And I believe that whatever he does there will be good for Cardrona and in keeping with the Cardrona character guidelines.''

Mr Hocking told the Otago Daily Times yesterday he had no immediate plans for the land.

''I believe in Cardrona long-term and having a bit of land there doesn't hurt ... I like the area. It's nice and if it ultimately grows and we can help with that then all the better.''

Deputy mayor Lyal Cocks said the council was disappointed it had missed out on the sections, but other land options for the village green would be considered.

''There's quite a few sections up for sale in Cardrona, so we'll just have a look at the structure plan, talk to the community association and see where we put our efforts to secure what the community needs ... there may be some better options.''

Mr Thornton believed the council's other options were limited.

''They won't want to pay the money that they're asking for these other sections ... So if they don't have the money to buy the car park they'll never have the money to buy anything else.''

Wellington-based Public Trust consultant Paul Browne advised the ODT yesterday three of the remaining four unclaimed Cardrona sections, the ones on either side of the hotel, had sold.

Mr Thornton confirmed the hotel bought the properties for future business expansion.

lucy.ibbotson@odt.co.nz