Media release from Councillor Helene Ritchie
The Wellington City Council decided unanimously today to support a Bill to give legal protection to the Town Belt for future generations.
The draft Town Belt Bill will now go out for public consultation for six weeks, hearings will take place, and then it will be introduced into Parliament.
Helene Ritchie, Portfolio Leader for the Natural Environment, today ensured by way of a successful amendment and a 9:6 vote, that the Bill will include a clear statement of the Council’s intent – to protect, manage and enhance the Town belt – despite efforts by some councillors and the mayor to include an agreement to sell off part of the Town Belt, if the Crown wanted it.
Protection of the Town Belt, alienated in significant ways by the Crown so that it became one third of its original size, has been a long battle by many Wellingtonians.
The Bill once enacted will see 130 hectares of land added, limitations on buildings and the amount of land leased, and clarification of commercial activity.
We were gifted the foresight of our forefathers who set aside the Town Belt first in 1841 as a public recreation ground for all to enjoy. The Crown has progressively alienated Town Belt land.
Today was a debate between those who wanted to agree with the Crown to sell Town Belt land, and those who wanted to protect it for future generations without agreeing to further alienation, and ensuring the highest possible compensation if the Crown wants to compulsorily take Town Belt land.
The draft bill has been the culmination of a three year city wide process led by Councillor Ritchie, which reached a city wide consensus and led to Council decisions re drafting instructions for the bill.
Those who voted for the Ritchie amendment for a Bill to protect, enhance and manage the Town Belt were Councillors Helene Ritchie, Sarah Free, Iona Pannett, Nicola Young, Paul Eagle, Mark Peck, David Lee, Simon Woolf,
Those who voted for the Foster amendment to agree to sell part of the Town Belt if the Crown wanted it, were: Mayor Wade-Brown, Councillors Andy Foster, Jo Coughlan, Ray Ahipene-Mercer, Simon Marsh, Justin Lester.
Ultimately the vote was unanimous.
The Bill will now go out for public consultation for six weeks and should be introduced into Parliament this term for a first reading and referral to the Select Committee.
Councillor Helene Ritchie is the council’s Portfolio Leader Natural Environment