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Showgrounds land sold to developer

By Don Farmer

[email protected]

A large chunk of Solway Showgrounds in Masterton has been sold to a developer, and is thought to be earmarked for new housing.

Greytown man Steve Pilbrow has bought the block at the back of the showgrounds known as the plateau, and which is directly opposite Breadcraft, having recently sold The Hub, a retail complex his company developed in Greytown.

Although the price has not been confirmed it is believed Mr Pilbrow paid a six-figure sum in the upper bracket for the block, having negotiated a deal with Masterton A&P Association.

The 7.4ha land sale will free up money for the show association which recorded a loss of nearly $100,000 over its entire operation in the year ending May 31, which included farm income, rentals, donations, grants and members subscriptions, and a show day loss of $28,309.

Mr Pilbrow said yesterday it was “a bit premature” to talk about his plans for the land as no consent documents had yet been lodged with Masterton District Council.

But he confirmed The Hub had been sold within three weeks to a Wellington-based buyer who has owned a weekender in Greytown for many years.

When the opportunity arose to buy the showgrounds land he had sat down with show association officials and agreed on a deal.

Mr Pilbrow said he would be willing to tell more about what use the land would be put to once things progressed further.

Masterton A&P Association chairman Peter McWilliam said the land sale would strengthen his organisation, which is developing a strategic plan for the showgrounds aimed at “invigorating and modernising public events”, and increasing the use of the showgrounds.

The block that has been sold was sometimes grazed and was mostly used for equestrian events

It was also used by harriers and for cross country running by schools.

An area of bush immediately at the back of the grandstand was not involved in the sale and is protected under a QE2 covenant.

Mr McWilliam said the decision to sell the land that borders Ngaumutawa Rd was not taken lightly but the board was confident the decision was the right one to secure one of Wairarapa’s “most picturesque and much loved assets and provide a sound foundation for the future”.

Emphasis would be put on growing the association’s agricultural and pastoral focus and developing opportunities for the under-utilised showgrounds.

“We will be looking to develop opportunities for it to be used more often.

“Solway is arguably one of the most beautiful showgrounds in the country and the association is keen to offer the public a greater opportunity to use and enjoy it,” he said.

Next year the show will celebrate its 130th birthday and show-day is to be held on the same date as Wings Over Wairarapa.

“We are working with Wings Over Wairarapa organisers to maximise the benefit of having increased visitors that weekend,” Mr McWilliam said.

3 COMMENTS

  1. The sale process was determined by the Board of the Association and in doing so it relied on the advice of its appointed real estate agent, an independent valuer, and its solicitor. Based on the advice from these parties the Association determined, taking all matters into consideration, that the offered price was fair and reasonable to the Association and the members were provided with independent advice to this effect.

    The decision by Association members to sell was unanimous .

    There is approximately 2.9ha of native bush at Solway which is protected by a QEII covenant. None of this area is included in the land which is being sold. Tina Nixon ( Association Board member

  2. So tell me please, the way the article reads there was no open tender or market exposure. If this is true how do you know the best price has been achieved. ????

    Secondly, my understanding is that this land was gifted to the people of Masterton. If so on what legal basis is it allowed to be sold.????

    Seems to me short sighted to sell part of an asset to meet a financial shortfall however well intentioned the current managers are.

    On the environmental front the Totara stand adjacent to the grandstand is apparently protected. Not so then the numerous specimens in the land sold. How are they protected, if at all.????? Answers please.

    • Thanks Tina,
      Seems A&P have covered the bases and I appreciate your response.
      I assume as you have responded to my query rather than the Chairperson or Secretary that you have the authority as a board member to do so.
      I note that in the `Candidates Profiles` for your bid for the MDC elections you state quote, “I`m advocating more transparent and informative community engagement” unquote.
      With this admirable principle in place I`m sure you will be able to respond to my following queries.

      1) Was there some consultation undertaken with MDC prior to the negotiated sale.

      2) Were other interest groups ( ie schools, athletic clubs, community groups, equestrians and many other historic users of the area sold taken into consideration.

      3) I am aware that over the years many community organizations, individuals and companies have contributed tens of thousands of dollars in direct donations and voluntary time to the upkeep and operation of the facility. Were they considered or consulted in the sale process.

      I would be most grateful for your further response.

      Regards, David Bull

Comments are closed.

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Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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