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After 36 years, still waiting for access to Trelissick Park

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Photo: Barry Durrant

by Peter Reimann
Lying within the valley between Ngaio and Wadestown, Trelissick Park is a wonderful neighbourhood asset with high usage by locals and visitors. But the only access from Wadestown and Highland Park on the south side is from the bottom of Hanover Street, whereas there are six entrances from Crofton Downs, Ngaio, and Kaiwharawhara Road on the north side.

A request for a track from Oban Street into Trelissick Park was first raised in 1981 in a Wadestown Residents’ Association submission on the Wellington City Council’s Draft Trelissick Park Management Plan. The proposed track was subsequently included in the WCC’s 1995 Park Management Plan. In 1999 the WCC organised a legal right of way into the Park down a grassy strip between two houses on Oban Street. They had previously owned one of the houses.

Since then, the Highland Park Progressive Association (HPPA), the Wadestown Residents’ Association (WRA) and the Trelissick Park Group (TPG) have been advocating for this new access track. However, the owners of the houses on either side of the legal right of way are strongly opposed because of removal of trees on the road reserve, security, privacy and parking. Others are concerned about environmental effects. There has also been long-standing reluctance by some within the Wellington City Council to proceed with the project. This is surprising, because public tracks running close beside/between houses are commonplace in Wellington – a unique pedestrian-accessible city.

The track from Oban Street would descend down steps across the road reserve, then down the legal right of way into the Park and zig-zag through the bush to the valley floor. The WCC require a footbridge to cross the Kaiwharawhara Stream to join the existing track system. They say it would need to be funded by the community.

Besides increasing access for Highland Park/Wadestown residents and others, including walking groups, the proposal creates a new walking circuit combining the Oban and Hanover Street entrances with a bush and street walk, including access to amenities (cafes, public toilet) in Highland Park and Wadestown.

The attractive new area of about 5 hectares traversed by the track is in native bush. The track would also provide access for pest animal/weed control and restoration.

Following a recent residents’ survey conducted by the community groups, the WCC are now working on preparing public consultation documentation. To establish a time-line and to seek more funding, the Trelissick Park Group wrote a piece in the December issue of their ‘Gorge Gazette’ as follows:

It’s not warfare yet, but after 36 years of local advocacy, patience is wearing thin. This is how it stands now:
 There was 84% public support in the recent survey for Park access from Oban Street.
 A legal right of way exists.
 All issues raised by dissenting people in the survey have been addressed in draft public consultation documentation prepared by TPG for WCC.
 Stream bank and height issues for the footbridge over the Kaiwharawhara Stream have been resolved.
 The WCC guideline for outdoor recreation is “600 metres or a 10-minute walk to one or more neighbourhood park…” (Suburban Reserves Management Plan 2015). Access from Oban Street would satisfy this for residents in lower Wadestown/Highland Park.
 The WCC ‘Open Space Access Plan 2016’ includes investigation of a second Park entrance from Wadestown. We have done most of that.
 $50K of funding has accumulated in a trust account.
 A funding plan is awaiting WCC project approval in principle, before raising the balance of funds.

This project has been dogged by politics since it was first mooted in 1981. WCC are trying to steer through this. What is sorely needed is political enthusiasm for this exciting project!

Our target is to see the project added back into the next WCC 10-Year Plan and for the project to have fund-raising completed, with all aspects designed by the end of 2018 and construction starting in February 2019.

We ask supporters to strongly advocate for this project in submissions on the 10-year plan in early 2018. We are open to additional pledges of funding for such a much-needed access.

Peter Reimann is chairman of the Trelissick Park Group.