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Wellington council makes transport land grab

Mar 11th, 2010 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News

GoWellington600WELLINGTON City Council is negotiating to buy land where buses turn around at the end of Lambton Quay.

Councillors decided the land should be owned rather than rented, as at present, from the Wellington Tenths Trust and Redwood Group.

Councillor Rob Goulden says the opportunity to purchase has only just come up, “so we’re taking it”.

The decision was made by councillors last week at a public-excluded extraordinary meeting of the council.

The piece of land, the former Hotel Cecil site at 8 Lambton Quay, is 700sqm and owned by the trust and Redwood Group Entities in a joint partnership. 

Mr Goulden says due to a historical land transfer issue, the land has until now only been available to council to rent.

When the bus facilities were constructed in 2002, the Crown title could not be transferred to the council until historical ownership was resolved.

The land was sold to descendants of the original owners and then to the Wellington Tenths Trust, an organisation established to administer Maori reserve lands mostly in urban Wellington. The land was later sold to the joint-venture partnership.

Michelle Brooker, communications adviser for the council, says the decision is so that the council doesn’t have to pay a lease any more.

In a written statement, Wellington Mayor Kerry Prendergast said the site was critical for bus operations and layover facilities.

The annual lease for site is currently $76,231 plus GST.

Land valuers were unable to comment as to what price purchase would be worthwhile.

Mayor Prendergast said the meeting was held with the public excluded, so commercially sensitive financial information could be discussed.

Tom Law, secretary of the Wellington Progressive Residents’ Association, says he isn’t concerned about the purchase of the land affecting ratepayers.

“I’m not any more concerned than other things the council has purchased,” he says.

He is concerned, however, by the secrecy of the meeting. “That land will be owned by us, the ratepayers and investors, so we have a right to know what it’s costing,” Mr Law says.

Ms Brooker says there is no reason why, at the completion of the sale, the council won’t alert the public.

“We’ll make the sale price available if anyone wants it.”

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