Walkway to the ocean
A popular river reserve that runs through Marlborough could be extended to the ocean if a council plan goes ahead.
Extending the Taylor River Reserve, and public access to other waterways, was identified as a long term, high priority goal in the Marlborough Environment Plan (MEP).
The aspirational project had no set time-frame or budget, and relied mainly on resource consents and subdivision development to make riparian land available.
But the idea has received a mixed reaction from landowners, with one calling it ‘‘a waste of time’’ while another thought the idea had merit. The reserve, which runs from the Taylor Dam to Stuart St just off Park Tce, was a popular destination for dogwalking, kite-flying and exercise.
Campbell Livestock owner Dick Campbell, who owned the property bordering a bend in the O¯ paoa River on the outskirts of Blenheim, said the plan was ‘‘stupid’’.
‘‘[The path] would be in our property, it won’t be happening,’’ Campbell said. ‘‘The only way they are going to get access to the land is if the property is subdivided, and that’s not going to happen in my lifetime.’’
He said it was a ‘‘waste of time’’ exploring the plan.
Marlborough District Council reserves planner Linda Craighead said the MEP was a 10-year plan, however it wasn’t necessarily achievable in that period.
‘‘If someone’s land title extends to the water, there is no public access. Unless the land is river esplanade, it’s private property,’’ Craighead said.
It was a common misconception that all riverbanks and beaches were the Queen’s Chain, or public land.
‘‘Council can’t just go and take land, you have to wait for the opportunity,’’ she said.
Usually, land was acquired as a condition of a resource consent or subdivision development, Craighead said.
‘‘Council could negotiate with a landowner to come to an agreement, but that doesn’t happen very often,’’ she said.
The maintenance and enhancement of public access to and along the coastal marine area, lakes, and rivers was a matter of national importance at a government level that was codified in the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA).
Craighead said council was obligated to compensate the property owner only if the parcel of land was over 4 hectares.
Grapevine Backpackers coowners Leanne Flynn and Karen Metcalf’s commercial property backed onto land marked as a priority for acquiring when the opportunity arises. Neither were opposed to public access.
Flynn said their property boundary was at the top of the stopbank; their only concern was about security for their guests.
Metcalf said the current river reserve, which they often used, was a real asset to the town.
‘‘It sounds like a lovely walk and a lovely idea,’’ Metcalf said.
‘‘I would have to see the plans to see how it would affect us.’’
Work to permanently repair earthquake damage to a section of the stopbank north of Park Tce, between Opawa St and Stuart St, began on December 10.