No backing for $47m equestrian centre

SARAH HARVEY
Last updated 05:00 10/12/2012
Woodhill Sands Equestrian Centre

FUNDING REQUEST: The purchase and development of Woodhill Sands Equestrian Centre was one of the proposals.

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A proposed $47 million national equestrian facility based in South Auckland will not be backed by Auckland Council who have said the sector needs to find its own funding.

The council this year received two "significant funding" requests: one for a new equestrian facility at Puhinui Reserve, Manukau, and the other to buy and develop Woodhill Sands Equestrian Centre north of Kumeu at a cost of $5m.

The proposals were presented to the Parks, Recreation and Heritage Forum in May and the council asked for an evaluation of the sector and what was needed in terms of facilities, both locally and nationally.

Council staff worked with Equestrian Sport New Zealand to identify priorities and the group determined that the Woodhill site should be secured to provide an equestrian facility in the north, and Puhinui Reserve should be bought so a national facility could be built.

However, as outlined in the agenda for the forum's meeting tomorrow, there is no funding available in the council's long term plan to support either proposal.

Council has suggested it will help the equestrian sector find other forms of funding to buy Woodhill and council staff will work with the Otara-Papatoetoe Local Board on the "management and use" of the Puhinui  Reserve and investigate the possibility of leasing the land for such a development at a later date.

Puhinui is a historic site and volcanic cones were recently identified there, so any development would have to follow consultation with other groups.

The agenda states that council's major role in the equestrian sector is providing land to pony clubs on subsidised community leases. There are 38 pony clubs in Auckland of which 25 have community leases on council owned land.

It also states that the council provides assets, infrastructure and maintenance for other sports facilities such as fields and swimming pools but "it does not tend to play these roles for more specialised facilities such as for equestrian sport".

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