05 July 2016
Parliament’s first reading of the New Plymouth District Council (Waitara Lands) Bill 2016 is likely to take place in spring, following adoption of the proposed legislation at today’s Council meeting.
“Our adoption of the Bill marks a significant milestone in addressing an issue that has caused distress in Waitara for many, many years,” says Mayor Andrew Judd.
“There are further steps before the Bill becomes law but I’m hopeful we are on the right track to securing a compromise between competing interests in this land.”
Key parts of the Bill include:
- Leaseholders will receive a right to purchase the freehold title to their property, for the unimproved land value and administrative costs, with no time limit imposed. The freeholding right will continue even if the lease is sold. Leaseholders who do not exercise this right will be able to continue to rent their land.
- The funds from the leasehold land – both rents and proceeds from sales – will be put back into the Waitara community. The money will be divided between New Plymouth District Council and Taranaki Regional Council, and both councils have committed to investing the money back into the Waitara community.
- Some land in Waitara will be transferred to Te Kotahitanga o Te Atiawa Trust, and the trust will have the right of first refusal on other blocks of Waitara land.
The adopted Bill includes amendments made following public consultation and hearings held in June. The amendments include a one-year transition period during which the price to freehold will be fixed to the unimproved land values from the day the legislation comes into force and the Council will met the administrative costs of freeholding. This will be supported by an administrative package to support leaseholders in the freeholding process, to ensure vulnerable leaseholders are not exploited.
Currently NPDC is largely restricted, through the Waitara Harbour Act 1940, to using rental income from the Waitara endowment lands for the prevention of erosion at the Waitara River and maintaining the Waitara River bridge. This Bill would remove those statutory restrictions and enable rental and sales proceeds to be used for the wider benefit of the Waitara community