Racecourse sale finally on track

Photo: ODT Files
Photo: ODT Files
Forbury Park is finally going to market after the end of a protracted legal dispute which prevented its sale. 

The final race at the harness club in Dunedin was held in July 2021 and the 12.2ha property became surplus to the racing industry’s requirements the following month. 

But efforts to sell the property since then were bogged down in complicated legal proceedings between Harness Racing New Zealand (HRNZ), Forbury Park Trotting Club and Seed Housing Ltd. 

HRNZ had argued the sale of part of the facility by Forbury Park Trotting Club to Seed Housing was illegal. 

However, today HRNZ announced it had reached a confidential settlement with the other two parties, which meant it was able to put the land on the market. 

It said the parties met last week to resolve the dispute over the portion of the Forbury land subject to a caveat by Seed Housing, and a settlement was reached. 

The statement said the settlement meant HRNZ could now start the process of selling the site with the intention of investing proceeds from its sale to benefit harness racing in the southern region.  

HRNZ was hopeful the sale process could be concluded by the end of July next year. 

The settlement comes after a High Court judgement released in August essentially provisionally upheld Seed Housing director Gary Todd’s argument his company had a legitimate interest in the slice of land. 

The court judgement focused on 6400sq m of land, which Seed Housing agreed to buy from the club for $1.33 million, plus GST. 

The agreement to sell the land was made with Seed Housing by Forbury Park Trotting Club before HRNZ took over the site, and HRNZ argued the sale breached the Racing Industry Act 2020. 

The agreement was reached one day before the Act came into force.

HRNZ had its own caveat in play on Forbury Park after lodging a notice against the title in 2020.

It is understood both caveats will be withdrawn. 

The venue was established on reclaimed swamp in the 19th century and the Otago Jockey Club first raced there in 1871. 

The most recent valuation of the property was $14.8 million. 

About 5000m² of the Forbury Park site was sold to the Ministry of Education in June for the use of St Clair School, which was consistent with the findings from the earlier community consultation carried out by HRNZ and Seed Housing.