Taylors Mistake recreation land could be sold off without rates relief

Taylors Mistake bach owners bought the 73ha block in 1989. PHOTO: Supplied
Taylors Mistake bach owners bought the 73ha block in 1989. Photo: Supplied
Taylors Mistake bach owners have been refused rates relief for a 73ha recreation area they own, which could prompt them to sell it.

But they are in talks with the city council to see if the bach licence fees they pay could be used to alleviate the costs of maintaining the land.

The group owns the block behind the beach through the Taylors Mistake Land Company Ltd.

Bach owner Malcolm McClurg said the company was spending about $15,000 annually on rates, weed control and fence maintenance for the land. Without reduced costs, it may decide to sell.

“It could put a stop to this great community asset. That would be a shame.”

A city council spokesperson said “there is no current scope for rates relief for this property”.

They said it does not qualify for non-rateable status under the Local Government (Rating) Act, and the owners and activities do not meet the requirements of the city council’s rates remissions policy.

McClurg said the bach owners are not surprised by the refusal of rates relief, but are still hopeful the city council will approve the use of the $150,000 in accrued licence fee income to offset costs.

“Now our approach is going to be pushing for the use of the licence money and talking with council about how to get that done,” he said.

The 30 bach owners have debentures and pay rates on the hilly area behind the beach, which is popular with walkers, cyclists and paragliders. 

Most expenses come from rates, weed control, and fence maintenance. The company’s biggest challenge is having these costs with no income.

“We’re using our land to provide a community asset. So what we’re hoping to do is see if the council could assist us in the costs that occur.”

The city council spokesperson said no decision has been made on the use of licence fees or any other form of city council support.

The future of the land came into focus after the decision in 2019 to grant new licences for 35 years to Taylors Mistake bach owners, who resided on city council-owned land.

At the start of the decades-long battle, the bach owners formed the land company and bought the block in 1989 from a private developer as leverage in negotiations over the licences.

“The original land was bought with the loans as a back-stop in case the baches were removed. It was a bargaining tool with the council.”

With their licences now secure, the land company is considering transitioning from a debenture holding to a shareholding, meaning members would become part owners rather than only loaning money.

Now surveying bach owners on their interest, McClurg said a shareholding could encourage further development due to members having more direct responsibility.

“The tricky issue is if a number of debenture holders choose not to become shareholders, we will have a smaller number of people having to carry the burden of the costs.”

McClurg said the use of licence fees would help in the transition to a shareholding as bach owners who take part will likely have a significant new expense.