Aro Valley residents rally to save town belt
In a two hour meeting, residents’ became restless after they learned the council believed the land adds little significance to the continuity of the town belt.
Aro Valley residents’ are concerned that changes to the town belt may lead to unwanted buildings in their valley.
At a meeting on Wednesday night, pictured, about 30 locals met to discuss how to oppose the plan.
Tony McGruddy, who has lived in the Aro Valley area for 20 years, called the meeting to inform people what was being proposed.
“This meeting is about getting people to talk about it because not a lot of people know what is going on,” he says.
“It is part of our responsibility as a citizen to be informed and have our say.”
The Wellington City Council is drafting a plan to change how the management of the town belt is handled, enabling it to add and remove land for the next 10 years.
The plan is in the early stages of what will become a local Parliamentary Bill.
However, Mr McGruddy says if land is not retained within the town belt, there is a possibility that land developers could purchase it and build on it.
He says the land is important part of Aro Valley, its residents’ and Wellington due to its natural value.
“If the council thinks that Aro Valley is not enhancing the horseshoe, then their argument is not very strong.”
He was referring to the horseshoe shap of town belt land around Wellington city.
“The town belt is there for recreational purposes and should be left to the public.”
Wellington City Councillor Helene Ritchie also attended the meeting, encouraging those attending to send as many submissions to the council as possible.
Ms Ritchie, the council’s natural environment portfolio leader, says it is important to meet the public so that she can fight behind the scenes for them.
“It is important to listen to the public and advocate for the town belt.”
The land is situated behind Devon St and the end of Abel Smith St, with one third of it used by the Ministry of Education for Te Aro School.
It is currently protected by the Town Belt Deed, an agreement between the council and the public that requires the land to be used as public recreation.
All comments on the draft plan are due by Monday, with oral submissions being heard in late February.
After the written and oral submissions have been analysed, a report will prepared for the council to read by 13th May.