A proposed 22-section residential subdivision at Forrester
Heights may not go ahead, even if a parliamentary select
committee decision to reclassify reserve land as endowment
land is ratified by Parliament.
The Waitaki District Council (WDC) proposed to develop a
subdivision on a 5.8ha of land in 2006, ostensibly as a way
to fund redevelopment of the Oamaru Opera House, but the
project was halted when it was revealed that an
administrative error in 1937 had wrongly classified the land
as a reserve.
Although consents for the subdivision are in place, and the
Local Government and Environment Select Committee agreed last
month, as part of its Waitaki District Council Reserves and
Other Land Empowering Bill deliberations, that the land was
not a reserve, WDC chief executive Mike Ross said no decision
on how to treat it would be made until the Bill had a final
"The status of Forrester Heights is the same now is it was
some time ago. As far as I am concerned we are still awaiting
the passing of the legislation.
"It's been on hold because of the delays in Government fixing
the stuff-up they made so many years ago."
Although Mr Ross said the land was " always supposed to be an
endowment in aid of borough funds", he added that the
development environment today was "not what it was" in 2005,
when the council first considered the development.
"The economy is in a different place, but the council has not
made any decisions on this.
"The options are - to do nothing, sell it as one block of
land, or consider whether it wishes to develop it itself. But
there is no change in status from council's perspective,
apart from awaiting the outcome of the correction of the
error made back in 1937."
Waitaki Concerned Citizens and Ratepayers Association
chairman Warren Crawford said although he still disagreed
with the select committee decision, he would not be surprised
if the council did not proceed with the subdivision.
Mr Crawford said the subdivision plans would have little
support around the council table.
"It should not even be being discussed as a subdivision. It
should be planted in trees to stop the erosion and for people
"In our opinion it was planted in trees, and seeing as the
select committee has completely ignored that fact, the
Government should do away with Arbour Day, because that's
when they were planted - 1895 on Arbour Day."