School sale welcomed by community

Lee Vandervis
Lee Vandervis
Tomahawk School could have a new life, now the area has a clean beach and the Dunedin City Council owns the property, a local man says.

Vic Inglis, chairman of the Tomahawk pool committee, said yesterday the committee would be keen to raise funds for the pool if the council also put in.

And he saw other possibilities for a property that was becoming a popular spot for locals.

But there were a variety of responses at a council level this week to news the school had been bought by the council for $300,000 to safeguard the city's coastline.

The property, formerly owned by the Crown, was sold to Ngai Tahu Property earlier this year and then on-sold to the council, which considered it an important part of the dune and beach system, one it needed to control.

A report to the community development committee this week detailed the purchase, and said ownership would provide, under the council's coastal dune reserves management plan, "the required level of protection for the dunes".

Cr Lee Vandervis was angered elected members had not been told about the purchase until after the fact, while Cr Syd Brown wanted to be certain it was bought for coastal protection, not as a community asset that would cost the council money in the long term.

Cr Jinty MacTavish felt the property was a community asset, one residents were "most positive" about, while Cr Fliss Butcher said it was essential the council bought the property to stop subdivision and residential development on land that was not suitable for that purpose.

Cr Vandervis said he could not see "one single reason" why buying the land protected the coast, and asked why councillors were not told about the purchase before it happened.

City environment general manager Tony Avery said at the meeting the purchase had been made under delegation from chief executive Paul Orders.

He said yesterday the money came from the reserves budget.

Cr Butcher said, as chairwoman of the hearings committee that considered the management plan, she was "very pleased" the land had been bought.

She told Cr Vandervis the residentially zoned land could have been developed into 15 properties with 15 houses, on land that was not suitable.

"This is a good outcome."

Cr Vandervis said the district plan should be used to stop such activity.

Cr Brown said he wanted the council to bear in mind the land was to be held for coastal protection. There were buildings and a pool on the land, and he was concerned upkeep could mean a cost.

But Cr MacTavish said the purchase "means a lot to the local Tomahawk community".

As the council representative on the Otago Peninsula Community Board it was one of the issues on which she had received the most positive feedback.

Mr Inglis said the beach had become popular now it was clean, following work on the Tahuna outfall pipe.

The school property was also popular with locals walking dogs and accessing the beach.

In "an ideal world" the property could be used, and the 25m pool saved for locals.

The report said discussions would be held with the community on future options for the site, and a report on that issue would go back before the committee.

• The committee voted to approve access to the beach to Nash and Ross Ltd, the company that takes sand to stop flooding in the Tomahawk lagoon.

The practice has caused anger in the community, but the reserves management plan notes sand extraction had been under way for many years, and did not have adverse effects on the reserve.

The company has applied to the Otago Regional Council, the council for which it does the work, for a permit to continue.

Otago Regional Council resource management director Selva Selvarajah said organisations including the New Zealand Historic Places Trust, Ngai Tahu and the Department of Conservation were affected parties under the permit, and all had given approval.

Once the full council approved the committee's decision to allow access, the permit would go through.

The company did not charge to take the sand, but could be used for commercial profit.

The matter was non-notified.


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