Cas­tle per­mit granted

South Waikato News - - NEWS / HE PURONGORONGO - By CAITLIN WAL­LACE

Kelvin and Pamela Baker are fly­ing high fol­low­ing news they can trans­form Ti­rau’s iconic cas­tle into an events cen­tre.

The cou­ple first came up with the idea to hold events at The Cas­tle Pamela 18 months ago but the process was de­layed in June due to neigh­bours who ob­jected.

Five sub­mit­ters ap­pealed the ap­pli­ca­tion for a re­source con­sent as they be­lieved noise and traf­fic would be prob­lem­atic.

The ap­pli­ca­tion sug­gested events would cater to large crowds of up to 300 dur­ing the day and 150 at night.

De­spite the out­cry, the South Waikato District Coun­cil awarded the con­sent.

Baker, a builder by trade, has al­ready started with the sound­proof gates which are part of the re­source con­di­tions.

The idea came af­ter a failed at­tempt at sell­ing the cas­tle two years ago.

Baker said if they could not sell then it was time to ‘‘move for­ward.

‘‘We want to use it and get more out of is as well as de­vel­op­ing the busi­ness . . . such a lot of shops in Ti­rau have closed,’’ he said.

This is the sec­ond time the cou­ple have faced off against neigh­bours.

The Taranaki-born pair moved to the South Waikato 17 years ago to build the cas­tle for their toy col­lec­tion.

Sixty-five-year old Baker said ob­jec­tions drew out the process and it took two years to gain the con­sent to build the cas­tle.

A life-threat­en­ing heart tu­mour meant Baker wanted to se­cure a good fu­ture for Pamela.

‘‘I wanted to leave an in­come for my wife be­fore I left.’’

Look­ing back he sees it as a bless­ing in dis­guise.

Dur­ing that time his tu­mour was suc­cess­fully re­moved and he be­lieves he would not have sur­vived the build­ing process oth­er­wise. ‘‘The ob­jec­tors saved my life.’’ Both were ‘‘long pro­cesses’’ but Baker said they suc­ceeded be­cause they were ‘‘bat­tlers’’.

And this time around many res­i­dents had come for­ward with ‘‘ex­cite­ment’’ over the up­grade, he said.

De­spite the new vi­sion he said it would al­ways be open for buy­ers.

If ‘‘his price’’ came along he would of course jump at the chance but he is not pin­ning his hopes on it.

‘‘ It hasn’t sold be­fore so it’s un­likely,’’ he said.

The event cen­tre is ex­pected to ‘‘keep them busy’’ over the next few years.

Baker hoped the ad­di­tions would be com­pleted by summer. Up­grades to Lake Moananui are fi­nally com­ing to an end but the South Waikato District Coun­cil is still wor­ried about the cost of silt. Silt re­moval has been one of the ma­jor is­sues dur­ing the up­grades. A silt trap planned for the lake was an ex­pen­sive mea­sure, ac­cord­ing to coun­cil­lor Thomas Lee. ‘‘Later on when it does need clean­ing it will cost us the coun­cil, or ratepay­ers.’’ But group man­ager as­sets Ted An­der­sen said the trap would last up to seven years be­fore it needed clean­ing. Gull’s of­fer of land-shar­ing is still up for grabs but South Waikato District coun­cil­lors don’t seem to want it. The pro­posal for a 24-hour un­manned sta­tion on Bridge St is all set to go ahead, ef­fec­tively chang­ing the coun­cil’s vi­sion of Leith Pl. Gull of­fered the coun­cil to use any spare land on the prop­erty but mayor Neil Sin­clair saw it as a ploy to in­crease busi­ness. ‘‘If we put the toi­lets there this will be ab­so­lutely bloody won­der­ful for them,’’ he said. Coun­cil­lor Marin Glu­cina be­lieved the 200sqm piece was not enough. ‘‘I don’t think that’s worth it,’’ he said. In just one month the South Waikato In­vest­ment Fund has al­ready pro­gressed. Coun­cil­lors were pleased to see the fund in­creased by $318,000 in May and June. In­ter­est and bank-re­lated in­vest­ments con­trib­uted.

Fu­ture build­ing: Kelvin Baker, front and Pamela right will stand along­side their fam­ily to build onto the cas­tle.

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