QLDC backs plan to repurpose oxidation pond site after criticism

The  old oxidation ponds site in Ballantyne Rd, Wanaka. PHOTO: ODT FILES
The old oxidation ponds site in Ballantyne Rd, Wanaka. PHOTO: ODT FILES
The Queenstown Lakes District Council says it has legal authority to repurpose Wanaka’s former Ballantyne Rd oxidation ponds for community sport and recreation.

Former Wanaka resident Dale Gordon contacted the Otago Daily Times last week after reading the council was seeking public submissions on uses for the 20ha block.

Online submissions on the Ballantyne Rd master plan close tomorrow.

Mrs Gordon and her husband Angus (80) left the district in 2013 and live in Auckland.

She said the land was acquired from the Gordon family under public works legislation and must be offered back if it was no longer being used for the purpose it was acquired — oxidation ponds.

"This is presumptious. The procedure has not been followed. The council knows how to get in touch with us. We told the council where we were going. That land was never, ever signed off," she said.

She also said it was "extremely important" the land be rehabilitated.

"There’s poisons in that land. It would be heinous to make it into a sports ground," she said.

There had always been hope the land would come back to the family.

They had sought legal advice and debated the issue previously with the council, when Clive Geddes was the mayor and Duncan Field the chief executive.

They had not taken it further then because the council had not decided what it would do with the ponds, she said.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council’s legal department responded to ODT questions through media spokesman Sam White.

"Council considers there is a legal process which may be used to repurpose the land for sport and recreation," Mr White said.

"We do not intend to comment publicly on the nature or extent of any discussions between the former landowner and council."

Asked if the council had offered the land back to the Gordons, Mr White replied, "QLDC requires the land for another public work, namely sport and recreation, so there is no reason or need to ask the former landowner that question."

The council held community information sessions on July 2 and 3.

Council sport and recreation manager Simon Battrick said consultation was a chance for people to "put forward early ideas on what’s most needed ... and how it will complement existing facilities across the road at Wanaka Recreation Centre".

Boffa Miskell will draft the master plan for the council.

The land was rezoned to "active sport and recreation zone" last year during a district plan review.

The district plan hearing panel, chaired by Trevor Robinson, agreed site contamination issues were best addressed under the National Environmental Standards for Assessing and Managing Contaminants in Soil to Protect Human Health 2011, "which requires that the site be remediated should the use change to one where human health could be affected irrespective of its zoning".

The panel rejected the Southern District Health Board’s submission that a public health risk assessment be completed before any works were done.

The land is close to the Wanaka Recreation Centre and Te Kura O Take Karara Primary School.





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