Sticky Forest bid countered

The future of Sticky Forest in Wanaka is still unclear after a planner recommended plans which would allow residential development on the land be declined.

Sticky Forest is about 50ha of private forested land in Wanaka near the Clutha River outlet, which contains a labyrinth of mountain biking tracks accessible to the public.

It is at present held in a trust for more than 1000 shareholders of the 57 Maori grantees given the land under the South Island Landless Natives Act.

While there is no formal access agreement, the landowners have allowed the public to access the site and Bike Wanaka to build and maintain the tracks.

One of the shareholders, Mike Beresford, of Christchurch, made a submission to the Queenstown Lakes District Council's proposed district plan to rezone the land from rural to a low-density residential zone.

Mr Beresford made the submission in a personal capacity, not as a representative of the shareholders.

In his submission, Mr Beresford stated the land was covered in pines and its location, surrounded by residential development, made it unsuitable for rural activities.

In a report submitted to the proposed district plan hearings panel, policy planner Craig Barr found the most appropriate zoning for the land was rural.

The site had important landscape values and its relationship to the edge of the Wanaka urban growth boundary made it unsuitable for urban development.

There were also significant constraints in terms of establishing road access and water and wastewater services, he said.

Mr Beresford said he was fully aware of the report but did not want to comment on the situation.

Hearings on the proposed district plan will be held in May.

Even if the land is not rezoned, it will remain privately owned.

About 500 people attended a meeting in February about the future of Sticky Forest and the privately owned land.

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