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‘Lemon land’ making a return to the market


Steve Rendle

Work is under way to “extinguish” easements on Featherston’s most famous vacant lot and put the land back on the market.

The site at 57 Fitzherbert St has been at the centre of community unrest since a deal with developer Marcus Darley fell through in April last year.

Issues with parking and loading zone requirements were his concerns, but in February last year it came to light that telecommunications provider Chorus had a six-metre-wide easement over a fibre optic cable duct running across the site.

Chorus needed access to its cables and the easement would have limited building above it.

South Wairarapa District Council has now negotiated with Chorus to reduce the easement to about two metres. It is also acting to completely remove two easements relating to a now-redundant access way, and a separate sewerage connection.

The access way is the last impediment to a sale.

“The affected party has given consent for the easement to be extinguished, which is yet to take place,” the council said.

“Once this takes place, the section will be ready to put on the market.”

The council believed the work on easements would lead to higher price for the land, but price would not necessarily be the determining factor in who bought it.

Featherston Community Board chairwoman Robyn Ramsden said feedback from the community showed people wanted shops on the site that would lead to employment opportunities.

“It’s great progress,” she said.

“We haven’t had progress like this for years.”

Ramsden is on the 57 Fitzherbert St subcommittee of the council with three Featherston Ward councillors.

“Tenders will be initially evaluated and ranked on non-financial considerations,” the council said.

“This ranking will then be compared with the prices offered.

“The highest financial offer will not necessarily be accepted.

“The successful tender [if any] will be that which provides the best value proposition for the district.”

The council said the property would be marketed by Bayleys Real Estate.

The site has not yet been listed, and no date for the sale has been set.

It will be sold using an open tender process.

Among non-financial considerations agreed by the 57 Fitzherbert St subcommittee in May was that preference would be given to tenders that “have a proposed use that will be complementary to existing activities, and/or will provide a valuable community service and/or will provide local employment opportunities and/or cultural facility”.

Preference would be given to tenders that were from businesses, residents, groups, or iwi within the Wairarapa district.

Funds from the sale of the Featherston vacant land would be held in the district’s property reserve and ring-fenced for a significant project or projects within the Featherston Ward boundary, with the Featherston

Community Board invited to recommend to council initiatives that could be funded from this source.

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