This has been in the news recently and was the first item on the agenda at the council meeting last Thursday. The report for councillors on it is here.

The land involved is in the Reikorangi Reserve owned by the Department of Conservation. The KCDC has been appointed to control and manage the Reserve which is classified as Local Purpose (community use). This lease comes under Section 59A(1) of the Reserves Act 1977.

The Gold Coast Western Riding Club’s (GCWRC) occupancy of the reserve was
previously in the form of permit concessions issued by DOC, the last of which
expired on 31 December 2014 after a five year term. The concessions, which
covered the entire reserve except for the hall and tennis courts (the former school), was for “horse riding activities, including maintenance of horse riding tracks, and gathering hay for the purpose of feeding horses on the land”.

DOC requested the Council take over the granting of concessions for the reserve and accordingly, the Council’s Environment and Community Development Committee approved a new lease to the club at the 16 June 2016 meeting — but, “there were errors in the report and procedural irregularities in the process that was followed at the time. The process was recommenced with public notification being given of the Council’s proposal to lease the reserve to Gold Coast Western Riding Club Inc. (an incorporated society) for a ten year term with two rights of renewal for further ten year terms.” The submissions had to be in by the end of January 2017.

A total of 12 locals objected to the granting of the lease and as a result it was proposed to reduce the leased area to that of the arena only, about 18% of the total Reserve’s area (pictures above).

Considering the small size of the land area thus involved, you might think there would cease to be controversy over it, but no.

The Reikorangi residents’ appointed advocate, Sue Smith’s husband Mr Mitchell, spoke to the council meeting first up.  His assertions differed from those given by Sara Malone, the representative of the GCWRC which claims to have a membership of 42 of which 31 are either residents or ratepayers of the Kapiti Coast District.  She added that there is a list of more who would like to join the club now.

“It has only a handful of members,” Mr Mitchell said, “and for the 2014 year, the last year in which accounts were filed, membership subscriptions totalled $125.”

The latter is true, however, in the previous year the figure was $405 and that is consistent with the earlier years; presumably thus $10 each.  The GCWRC was de-registered for lack of filing in February 2014, but was re-registered in July that year.  Clearly the club’s secretary isn’t or hasn’t been the most diligent of people. However, there is no evidence in the club’s accounts to support Mr Mitchell’s claim that it has been subleasing the Reserve.

The club has fees to use the arena, “which are very much in line with fees for the use of any other arena in the country; they are not expensive, they are very reasonable.”  It seems these casual fees are $50 a month or $300 a year.

Ms Malone said the club has annual show days and periodic club days, likewise training days.  Although the total days the arena is used by the club wasn’t clear, it appears like it would be in the order of 20-25 a year.  In answer to a question she said the club would have a separate fee for non-riding members, but it wouldn’t be determined by where they lived.

“Subsequent attempts to arrange a meeting between Community and Club
representatives were frustrated” seems to refer to an intended meeting in late July (the exact date wasn’t given) chaired/mediated by Waikanae Ward councillor Michael Scott that didn’t happen. Given Mr Mitchell’s shall we say, intemperate disposition towards Michael Scott (among others), that isn’t surprising.

“If Council approves a lease to GCWRC, staff will attempt to facilitate a future meeting or meetings between Community and Club representatives.”

That will be necessary as the council passed (with one no and one abstention) the motion from the Mayor and seconded by Micheal Scott :

“That the Council grants a lease for five years with no right of renewal, in general accordance with Option 1 in this report, commencing 1 September 2017 to the Gold Coast Western Riding Club for the area of the arena shown [above] at an annual rental set by the Council in the Long Term Plan or Annual Plan.”

This was qualified by a sentence in the report: “The five year lease enables early termination by Council with a three month notice period, in the event of any future community outcomes identifying the arena being required for an alternative purpose.”

The Council will take over maintenance of the Reikorangi Reserve (which has hitherto been the responsibility of GCWRC), excluding the arena, at a cost of $4,000 per annum.