Chance for campground plan say

Council chief executive Steve Hill
Council chief executive Steve Hill
Milton residents will get to have a final say on a controversial campground expansion after a draft reserve management plan (RMP) was approved for public consultation yesterday.

The Clutha District Council service delivery committee met in Balclutha yesterday to discuss the final draft Milton RMP, which will go out for consultation from December 1.

A controversial element of the plan since its review was announced in August has been the expansion of the Taylor Park Campground to include an eventual 10 cabins.

Residents have raised concerns regarding both the cabins’ location on green space and their possible use as temporary accommodation for workers and vulnerable individuals.

The cabins’ placement would also affect the Milton Volunteer Fire Brigade’s ability to host fire service competitions.

That latter concern appeared to have been alleviated yesterday, as two of the cabins had now been moved in response to brigade members’ concerns, a report said.

However, Cr Kevin Barron questioned whether the plan needed to include a detailed explanation of the cabins’ intended use, to allow ratepayers to make a fully informed decision.

Council chief executive Steve Hill said he did not believe that was necessary, as the cabins were intended for general use.

"I don’t see the need to spell out that anyone can be a customer of a camping ground, because they can. And cabins are a normal part of any camping ground," Mr Hill said.

After further discussion, Mr Hill conceded that the draft plan could include a description of the council’s model for the operation of the district’s campgrounds.

The council has gradually been selling its campgrounds into private owner operation of above-ground assets during recent years, while retaining ownership of the land.

Expanding the Taylor Park Campground with cabins would allow this process to continue, Mr Hill said.

An option to allow residents to decide whether they wished any campground to remain at Taylor Park was rejected during discussion by councillors.

Instead, residents will be able to provide feedback on three options.

These include reverting to the former status quo by removing cabins already installed; moving the cabins into the former swimming pool area following its demolition; or retaining the current cabins’ location and adding further cabins in the former swimming pool area at a later date.

Submissions will close on February 2 next year, before verbal submissions are heard on February 15.

A final plan will be adopted on March 27.