The Todd Property Group has agreed to sell the Ngunguru Spit in Northland to the Government and has bought the site of the defunct Napier Hospital in a related transaction.
Todd predecessor Landco Ltd proposed a 350-lot subdivision on 152ha of the sandspit, just south of Tutukaka. When negotiations for a land swap were underway in 2008 following heavy opposition, Environmental Defence Society chairman Gary Taylor described the sandspit as “low-lying, subject to periodic inundation by storm surges, has nationally important ecological values and is an outstanding coastal landscape. EDS is generally supportive of the idea of a land swap with Crown land elsewhere. It would be good to get the spit into public ownership.”
But he warned of overvaluing it: “The land is not very valuable. Landco might argue that it is, based on what it would be worth if it was developed. But recent court decisions have said valuation is based on its present zoning, not some speculative future development.
"Under its present zoning it has both limited development potential as well as access problems that have yet to be overcome. In any case, the Landco development is never going to get through the resource management hurdles. It is too intense, in the wrong place and quite clearly contrary to both the Resource Management Act & the NZ coastal policy statement.”
Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson announced the deal with Todd Property yesterday, but said details were subject to confidentiality clauses.
She said: “Relatively intact ecologically representative sandspits are very rare. 4 separate assessments, undertaken between 1982-2004, all ranked Ngunguru as nationally significant and the highest priority for protection in Northland. Securing Ngunguru Spit is a great win for conservation, and I know the local community has been pushing for this result for some time.
“A lot of people have attempted to negotiate this purchase over many decades and I want to thank the Ngunguru Sandspit Protection Society and Todd Property for their work on this agreement.”
Ms Wilkinson said the Department of Conservation had no immediate plans for the development of recreational facilities or similar work on the sandspit: “Ngunguru Spit is home to 15 species of threatened flora & fauna, including brown kiwi & New Zealand dotterel. It also has significant cultural values with recorded archaeological sites, including pa sites, terraces, middens & Maori burial/wahi tapu sites. The landscape, biodiversity & cultural values are best managed by keeping the area as open space so the community can enjoy it.”
The 5ha Napier Hospital site – on the market since 2006 – will be developed for housing. The hospital was closed in 1997, when all services were transferred to Hastings. Health Minister Tony Ryall said this sale would enable the Hawke’s Bay District Health Board to build a new mental health unit.
Mr Ryall said the Crown Health Financing Agency would realise $13 million from the sale, returning $9 million to the health board after holding costs.
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Attribution: Ministerial & EDS releases, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.