AgResearch land on the market

COLIN WILLIAMS
Last updated 10:27 23/01/2013

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Upper Hutt Leader

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Sixty hectares of "prime real estate" on the former AgResearch site at Wallaceville is now on the market, ready for development.

Formal advertising for expressions of interest in buying the site from the now Hamilton-based AgResearch Ltd is an important step and the first public stage of what may prove to be a major boon for Upper Hutt and its future.

All interest centres on the response from American company Raleigh Studios which, through its New Zealand-based producer Michael Garlick has been investigating the site's potential since the closure more than four years ago.

Plans for "Pacific Park Studios" would see the land turned into a Hollywood-style studio complex.

An extensive construction period would see international- quality sound stages, a public amphitheatre, outdoor filming lots and a film school and accommodation.

The Upper Hutt Council has been working with Raleigh for years.

The mayor, Wayne Guppy, is excited by the potential bonanza outcome but remains publicly cautious.

"Advertising the land was part of the requirement for sale, obviously. It's a significant part of a large and complex project and it's already been a long process," he says.

"We've done a lot of work over the last four years and as a council are excited but it's about taking one step at a time," Mr Guppy says.

The surplus Crown land is bordered by Ward St, Alexander Rd (on both sides near Ward St), Trentham Racecourse and the railway.

It includes existing buildings and houses and is "in a strategically important location . . . less than 3km from Upper Hutt's commercial centre," the AgResearch advertisement says.

"The property is currently zoned special activity but is earmarked for a range of residential and commercial activities as part of (the council's) urban growth strategy."

Placing the site on the market follows the Government decision to not have it landbanked after a sites-of-significance application based on the area's history to local Maori.

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- Upper Hutt Leader

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