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Petition for Pahikara confuses the council

Plans for Adam Blackwell’s Pahikara complex in Greytown came to a standstill earlier this year. PHOTOS/FILE

TOM TAYLOR
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A group of Greytown residents have banded together in a bid to reopen discussions on a proposed cycling complex in the town centre.

The group created a website – “Greytown – Te Hiringa” – and a petition to reopen discussions on the use of council-owned land occupied by the Greytown Menz Shed.

The website called on residents to help devise a plan for Greytown:

“We understand the council’s overall vision needs to cover all of South Wairarapa and is necessarily at a high level. The council should therefore enable individual communities such as ours to expand on the regional template and to promote and fulfil our own specific visions.”

The website also included a request for the council to sell land in the centre of Greytown for development.

Developer Adam Blackwell had identified land at 85-87 West St in the centre of Greytown for an entertainment, dining, and accommodation complex that would connect with the region’s cycling trails.

The Pahikara project came to a standstill earlier this year, with South Wairarapa District Council deciding to hold on to the land until further public consultation before the 2024/34 Long Term Plan.

Greytown resident Derek Williams said he was called upon to co-ordinate the group of about 20 residents after he wrote a letter to South Wairarapa Mayor Alex Beijen.

“Of my own volition I wrote a letter to the mayor expressing disappointment at the decision not to release the land for development at West St,” Williams said.

His letter resulted in an invitation to meet a group of Greytown residents who were also dissatisfied at the council’s decision.

“We are attempting to engage with the council and ask them to at least hear our view on the matter of that land,” Williams said.

He said waiting until the 2024/34 Long Term Plan would result in lost opportunities.

“There are a number of investors around who are sitting on cash that they are prepared to invest in ventures… The opportunity may disappear to tap into the liquidity that is there at the moment.”

Williams said Greytown needed to improve its amenities to attract skilled people into the area.

“Around Greytown there are initiatives like the Five Rivers Health Centre and the Orchards retirement village … But the town and adjacent towns get fully booked out on weekends, and there is a concern that we’ll miss out on attracting and retaining professional people to operate those new facilities.”

South Wairarapa Mayor Alex Beijen said it was good to see Greytown residents engaging in issues they felt strongly about. However, he said the residents’ petition confused him.

“Council has been clear that the matter for selling this particular piece of land is one requiring public consultation, and we have set a timeline to do this,” Beijen said.

Greytown Menz Shed chairman Peter Bennett, left, says it is time for Pahikara supporters to move on.

“No developer has automatic rights of purchase or lease of public land.”

Beijen said the council would not make any decisions on the fate of valuable council properties without full consultation of all South Wairarapa residents.

“South Wairarapa District Council of course supports the visions of the community as a whole, especially if they are done properly and follow our procedures and law.”

Beijen said the council had not yet received any petition to change the proposed timing of public consultation.

Greytown Menz Shed chairman Peter Bennett said the group would carry on as normal until the council advised them that they needed to relocate.

“We’ve moved on from all this drama.”

The petition had 771 signatures by the end of last week.

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