Developer may get Shelly Bay lease

DAVE BURGESS
Last updated 05:00 14/01/2014

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A five-year lease on Maori-owned land at Shelly Bay may be awarded to Ian Cassels in a deal between the Wellington property developer and landowners Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust.

The trust paid $16 million for the Shelly Bay land as part of its Treaty settlement with the Crown in 2008. At the time there were big plans to build a film museum at Shelly Bay in a joint venture with Sir Peter Jackson. That fell through and the site has struggled to hold its own financially.

Mr Cassels said yesterday the lease proposal was not motivated by a desire to turn a profit.

"We are not after it to make money out of it. We are after it so we can get them [the trust] into reasonable condition and make Shelly Bay available one day for a development for the city.

"I'm not pushing any particular private barrow. I just want to see our local iwi thrive . . . they have a vital role in Wellington."

Trust chairman Neville Baker said the Shelly Bay lease agreement would give the trust time to consider options for the site.

"Ian has put forward a proposal to give us a short-term period of time to be able to think through all the issues around Shelly Bay, and to consider the interest that's been shown. It is about trying to tidy up the Port Nicholson Block, get rid of the losses, settle things down, and get a real look at what we can do with Shelly Bay."

Whichever major project was eventually located at Shelly Bay, it would benefit more than just the trust, he said.

"It's about using something that is an iconic piece of real estate that has the potential to showcase whatever it might be for Wellington and New Zealand."

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said the council was aware of talks involving Mr Cassels and the trust.

"There are a number of parties with interests in Shelly Bay and the peninsula, including the city council [which owns land on the harbour side of Shelly Bay Rd].

"I would hope and expect that any proposals for long-term uses of the site will recognise the fact Shelly Bay is a treasure in Wellington's coastal crown."

Mr Baker said Mr Cassels' lease agreement, to be considered by the trust next month, would include an exit clause should a major development be decided upon.

The trust was established in August 2008 to receive, administer and manage a Treaty settlement with four main iwi, known as the Taranaki Whanui.

It included nearly $25m in cash - $16m was used to buy the Shelly Bay land - plus purchase and lease-back arrangements for some Wellington buildings, including Archives New Zealand, the National Library, the High Court and Wellington Girls' College.

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Mr Baker told The Dominion Post in October last year the trust wanted to reverse a trend that had seen the overall net worth of the $25m Treaty settlement drop to between $22m and $23m.

- The Dominion Post

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