QLDC: forest may be bought

A Wanaka bike advocacy group has welcomed Queenstown Lakes District Council confirming Sticky Forest could be bought using funds remaining from the sale of the ratepayer-owned land bank Scurr Heights.

Bike Wanaka spokesman Simon Telfer said he got confirmation in an email from council chief executive Mike Theelen, but Mr Theelen said it would still need public consultation, as it was not in the current 10-year district plan.

Sticky Forest is a pine plantation to the north of the Wanaka town centre. It has more than 30km of trails built and maintained by Bike Wanaka members and other biking enthusiasts.

It was given as a substitute block of land for settlement redress to the 1019 descendants of the 53 owners of the original Hawea-Wanaka block 40km north of Wanaka at "the neck", between lakes Wanaka and Hawea.

The Maori Land Court compiled a list of 1071 people who would receive shares in the Hawea-Wanaka substitute block.

A proposal by Maori land owner representative Mike Beresford to rezone 20 hectares of Sticky Forest to allow residential development was rejected by the council, due largely to a lack of access.

Mr Beresford appealed to the Environment Court and both parties are due to mediate early next month.

Mr Theelen told the ODT "the Council’s position has not changed from its position at the Proposed District Plan hearing, which is that it does not support rezoning of the area without access being confirmed".

"However — and this is important to note — Council must go into a mediation process with an open mind should other parties provide further information that might address those concerns.

"Through the mediation process the appellant is also able to promote new solutions, and we will wait to see if any are presented to council," Mr Theelen said.

 

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