Walk­way to the ocean

Marlborough Express - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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