Council to look at Waitangirua farm purchase

Dominion Post | 17 December 2004


GREATER Wellington regional council is considering buying Waitangirua farm.

The 1600-hectare farm is on hill country immediately to the east of the Porirua suburbs of Cannons Creek and Waitangirua. Its ridgelines make up much of the city's eastern skyline.

Its owner, Landcorp Farming, has declared the property surplus and discussed its future with the regional council. The property forms the western part of the council's Belmont Regional Park.

"It's not an ideal farming property," Landcorp chief executive Chris Kelly said. "There are issues of public access and it's quite high-value land."

Mr Kelly said he did not have a valuation for the property. However, its selling price could be millions of dollars.

Greater Wellington chairman Ian Buchanan said Landcorp had approached the council.

The matter was discussed in a closed session at yesterday's council meeting. Afterwards, Mr Buchanan would not give details, saying the matter was commercially sensitive. However, he did not expect a quick agreement.

Mr Kelly agreed.

"I think it'll take a bit of time."

Mr Buchanan said a possible purchase was a significant issue, meaning the council would have to consult the public before it could go ahead.

However, the prospect of the land coming into public ownership has been welcomed by a local conservation group.  Sylvia Jenkin, from the Friends of Maara Roa, said her group had been pushing the council for years to buy the section closest to Cannons Creek but without success.

"We'd be delighted if it happened.  It's a pretty important piece of landscape.  One of my concerns is that it could be chopped up and roads put through."

Ms Jenkin said the council needed to be upfront with its plans for the land — whether it would be retained for farming, or some of it developed for housing.

However, Mr Buchanan said those issues had yet to be considered.