Carisbrook plans a 'missed' chance for sports

Carisbrook might soon host retirees or engineers in a move that has already been called a missed opportunity for Dunedin sport.

City council staff have rejected calls to keep Carisbrook for sport to focus on selling it as industrial land or as a retirement village, or developing an industrial park there.

Even if the land is sold, they want to restrict its use to stop it being developed into a shopping centre and to invest whatever profits come from a sale into a fund for South Dunedin.

But they do not expect the council to make a decision this year: they have proposed the options be considered by councillors as they develop the 2011-12 annual plan.

Sport Otago chief executive John Brimble, who argued the ground should become a multiuse, multisport complex for sport from club rugby to football, and for secondary school sport, yesterday said the options were a "lost opportunity".

A redeveloped Carisbrook could have been a hub for community sport, which would have had a new home to thrive outside the high-performance focus of sport at the new Forsyth Barr Stadium.

"There is a crying need for more, good-quality grounds in the city. Carisbrook was an available option. Now they'll have to look somewhere else."

The proposals, detailed in a report to the council's finance and strategy committee, come from a shortlist of five options developed by councillors after public consultation in June and July.

Thirty-five submissions identified 18 options with seven - the largest grouping - wanting to keep the ground as a multiuse, multisport facility and sports hub for South Dunedin.

Four submissions said the council should keep Carisbrook as a sports ground and develop Bathgate Park - which Softball Otago said hosted 3000 people at weekend T-ball games - into social housing.

Policy analyst Tami Beckingsale's report says the sports ground and social housing options should be dropped, in part because they could increase rates and council debt.

Bathgate Park was used by many sports, was closer than Carisbrook to most schools and, as Crown Reserve, could not be sold to private developers, while Logan Park is the logical priority site for sporting development.

Selling Carisbrook as an industrial park, as proposed in three submissions, or as a retirement village, as proposed in two submissions, would bring significant benefits without significant costs, the report says.

Carisbrook is already zoned industrial and converting it into a light industrial park would create jobs and let the council pay off some of its debt.

It could also consider a public-private partnership to develop the land into a 2.8ha, 10-title industrial park before selling the lots on the open market. However, the redevelopment costs would increase council debt.

The area needed more retirement homes, and selling the land for a retirement village and rest-home - if a developer thought it a good site for either - would improve community access.

It would cost at least $30,000 to have the land rezoned as residential, and potential industrial land would then be lost.

For each option, the report says there would be no loss of public amenity because the land was never available for general public use, and the heritage aspects of the site should be retained.

A covenant should also be imposed to stop anything, such as a retail complex, being built at the expense of plans to regenerate the King Edward St shopping centre.

There were at least three options for the money if the council, which paid $7 million for the ground and adjacent houses and carparks last year, sold Carisbrook and repaid its $5 million loan.

It could start a Carisbrook Trust Fund for the benefit of South Dunedin and Caversham. The first job would be to build a South Dunedin library.

The money generated could also be used to reduce the council's level of debt.

Otago Surveying Company surveyor Chris Milburn was pleased his idea of a retirement village, which could use the corporate box building as a rest-home, had been shortlisted.

The city needed to get ready for a rapid increase in its aged population - but, whether it opted for a retirement village or an industrial development, it needed a proposal to maximise its return and help it pay debts.

At a public meeting in July, Mayor Peter Chin stressed the importance of making a decision by the time the Otago Rugby Football Union vacated Carisbrook on October 1 next year. Then the council would begin to incur holding costs of about $440,000 a year.

The proposals will be presented to the finance and strategy committee on Monday.

Submissions asked for Carisbrook to be developed as:

• South Seas exhibition centre and theme park
• Commuter bus and train depot
• Olympic-sized swimming pool and dive pool
• Playground and library, with swimming holes in green spaces
• Corporate boxes as a health centre and sports hub
• Community recreation space, including skate park
• Sports ground for multiple sporting codes
• Shopping centre
• Commercial, retail, industrial or residential land
• Commercial offices and horticultural/community gardens
• Retirement village and rest-home
• Options staff want to send to new council:
• Sell it as industrial-zoned land
• Sell it as a retirement village and rest-home
• Develop it as an industrial park, then sell the individual lots
SOURCE: Dunedin City Council finance and strategy committee agenda


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