Gift of land to St John for vehicle base

St John has identified another site in Oamaru for its long-awaited new ambulance base.

The organisation yesterday confirmed it was in negotiations to develop an ambulance base on a piece of land offered as a gift to St John.

Community engagement general manager Craig Stockdale said St John was "extremely grateful" the local couple contacted the St John Oamaru Area Committee to offer their support.

"It is exceptionally generous of them to support St John in this way," Mr Stockdale said.

While details of the location remained confidential for legal reasons, St John confirmed it was in the "southwest" area of the North Otago town.

"We are confident the land that’s been offered is going to be a much better location than the one we were originally considering and we are really excited to progress this long-awaited project," he said.

Plans were "progressing well" and St John would update the community on the new site "as soon as we are able to".

"We appreciate it’s been a long and occasionally challenging process to get to this point and we are excited to be able to share this update."

Mr Stockdale said St John would be working closely with the Waitaki District Council through the consent and subdivision process to secure settlement of the site for development, but there was still a lot of work to do before it was shovel ready.

St John has been searching for a new site since 2014, as its current Coquet St premises are no longer fit for purpose.

A section of Awamoa Park was identified as a preferred site, and in February St John formally sought the opportunity to lease part of the park from the council.

The council undertook community consultation, required under the Local Government Act. Of the 151 submitters, 59% said they would support the proposal, while 36% said they would not, many expressing support for St John but citing the loss of green space as a concern.

After public hearings, councillors rejected the proposal in April and St John restarted its search.

Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said the offer of land was "very welcome news" and the council would support St John through the next stages.

The council was also involved in discussions about moving its emergency operations centre to St John’s new building development when that was built.

 - rebecca.ryan@odt.co.nz

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