Plan to build on stewardship land opposed

The West Coast Tai Poutini Conservation Board is opposed to the building of a community centre on Department of Conservation stewardship land at Punakaiki.

The Buller District Council has applied to use stewardship land at Dolomite Point for a centre that would accommodate public meetings and other gatherings, and the majority of submissions support the plan.

But the conservation board has set out its objections in a letter to Doc this week. It says it supports the community’s desire for the centre, but the proposed site includes advanced regenerating coastal lowland forest, and is part of the wider karst landscape, a rare landform in New Zealand.

Under the Conservation Act, stewardship land must be managed so that its natural and historic resources were protected, the board said.

"The board believes that the proposed activity would be contrary to the purposes for which the land is held, and does not wish to set a precedent for development creep on to public conservation land ..."

There was a better location for a community centre within the Dolomite Point redevelopment plan — the project approved for a $26million grant from the provincial growth fund, the board said.

"One alternative not considered is the 5ha local purpose (public utility) reserve which adjoins the proposed site. Although this reserve is indicated to be part of the car parking extension of the (Dolomite Point) project, the concept drawing shows areas of remaining vegetation. Given the relatively small building footprint, perhaps 10 car spaces, this appears a viable alternative."

The board’s letter also criticises the Buller District Council application to use the land.

"The application... is misleading and potentially confusing with varying information on key points... and any decision could be challenged legally due to these errors."

The errors could have been avoided had the council invited the conservation board to comment before public notification, it said. 


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