Ex-Contact land acquired
Trust to create park on former power company land
Luggate resident Lewis Verduyn-Cassels’ year-long negotiation with Contact Energy to buy a plot of former hydro-electricity land for the Red Bridge River Park Trust is over.
The parties announced last week a deal had been struck, with the trust to pay a deposit now and settle the balance in five years’ time.
Verduyn-Cassels said he was pleased and relieved the long negotiations were over, so the trust could start concentrating on creating a community river park next to the Luggate Red Bridge.
He and his family were paying the bulk of the deposit, but donors had also made contributions.
He declined to release the deposit amount, citing confidentiality, but said the balance to pay in five years would total $159,000.
The deposit is based on market rates.
‘‘It was a very long negotiation because there was so much detail in it and the document was quite large and we didn’t want an interestbearing debt. That was a big part of it, because as a charity, we couldn’t negotiate a mortgage. There was no legal reason why we couldn’t but it was not practical because we [the trust] do not have an income. So how can we have a mortgage?’’
The trust was now planning to update its native flora and fauna restoration and freshwater ecology project.
‘‘We have to talk to DOC and the council. We want to put a track in and start planting. We are still aiming for an official opening on October 28,’’ he said.
Verduyn-Cassels had previously been a long-term Contact Energy tenant on the 0.4ha property.
Contact’s generation and development project manager Neil Gillespie said the company was ‘‘very pleased to reach an agreement that enables both parties to move forward positively’’.
Verduyn-Cassels thanked supporters, including the Wanaka Community Board and numerous donors.
Separate to the sale to the trust, Contact is finalising arrangements to gift a 1.9 ha block of land next to the Luggate Bridge to the local community.
This is most likely to be achieved through the Queenstown Lakes District Council.
Contact has been progressively selling parcels of land it owns in the Clutha region in recent years, following an announcement in 2012 that it was no longer progressing a proposed hydrogeneration development in the area.
The land to be sold to the Red Bridge River Park Trust is labelled block 2. Blocks 1 and 3were earlier sold by Contact Energy. Block 4 is in the process of being separately gifted by Contact to the local community.
Lewis Verduyn-Cassels at the Luggate Red Bridge.