Helene Ritchie gets a bit of stick on here, so it’s only fair that we give credit where it’s due – specifically for her work around ensuring the future of the Wellington Town Belt. The Wellingtonian reports:
The Town Belt subcommittee, chaired by Ms Ritchie and also including councillors Andy Foster, John Morrison and Iona Pannett, has been working assiduously for nearly three years to protect the Town Belt, which has been gradually been chipped away since it was formed in 1841.
“It has not been easy,” Ms Ritchie said. “We have been dealing with the Town Belt Deed, drawn up in 1873.
“Trying to interpret that and meet the various demands arising 140 years later has been a challenge.”
Under the management plan developed by the Ritchie subcommittee, the Town Belt will comprise 520 hectares.
That compares to the original 625ha and the 429ha the Town Belt had been pared back to by 1873.
The subcommittee considered 259 public submissions, 62 of them oral, and used as a guiding principle the words of surveyor general William Mein Smith in 1839.
He wrote: “It is indeed desirable that the whole outside of the town, inland, should be separated from the country by a broad belt of land which you will declare that the [New Zealand] Company intends to be public property on condition that no buildings be ever erected upon it.”
The other factor that guided the subcommittee was the emphasis in the 1873 Deed of the Town Belt about the land being a public recreation ground.
The Council’s strategy and policy committee adopted the subcommittee’s proposals unanimously last week and it’s expected to be endorsed by the full council meeting soon. Grant Robertson will then need to introduce a local bill into Parliament that gives effect to the subcommittee’s proposal.
David Lee of Action for Environment (and tipped to stand for the Greens in the Southern Ward), has been the most critical over the years of the Council’s plans, but it’s good to see Ritchie and Andy Foster responding to his criticisms and the debate in the comments section.
She said it had been a huge part of three years of hard work as natural environment portfolio leader and, over the past six months, chairing the Town Belt hearings subcommittee.
“As a result, with years of experience, I have been able to get this very important piece of work done for the people of Wellington today and for future generations.”
That’s very true, this work will be around for a very long time, even longer than the time Ritchie’s been on Council :-)!