Peter Jackson wants to save land for public

DAVE BURGESS
Last updated 05:00 04/08/2011
LONG-TERM POTENTIAL: Watts Peninsula could become a Jackson legacy. Watts Peninsula Coalition spokesman Allan Probert says his group  welcomes Jackson's interest and support.
ANDREW GORRIE/ The Dominion Post

LONG-TERM POTENTIAL: Watts Peninsula could become a Jackson legacy. Watts Peninsula Coalition spokesman Allan Probert says his group welcomes Jackson's interest and support.

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Multi-millionaire film director Sir Peter Jackson is using his influence to ensure a King Kong-sized chunk of land on Wellington's Miramar Peninsula is kept out of developers' hands and incorporated into the city's green belt.

The New Zealand Defence Force is looking to sell 76 hectares of surplus land on what it calls Watts Peninsula – near but not including Wellington Prison – which overlooks Jackson's Miramar film-making facilities.

Defence Force director of housing and property Peter Bollmann said a lawyer representing Jackson had recently been in contact.

"They've always had a peripheral interest because they've filmed bits and pieces up on the peninsula. But, yes, he has made contact with us at Defence and we have told him what the disposal process is."

Jackson took time off yesterday from making The Hobbit to issue a statement to The Dominion Post.

"We are concerned about protecting the green belt for future generations," it said.

"While we have no current intention of buying any land, we are investigating how we might be able to support the current proposal for Defence-owned land on Watts Peninsula to remain in public ownership."

Watts Peninsula Coalition spokesman Allan Probert said the group welcomed Jackson's interest and support.

"We've always found Sir Peter supportive of initiatives on the peninsula. He is a passionate Wellingtonian, and this would be a great way for him to create an amazing legacy for the city.

"What's important at Watts Peninsula is not the short term but the potential for the whole city in the long term."

The coalition wants the area to remain as open space but be developed along the lines of a successful Sydney Harbour military heritage project that would turn it into a reserve and tourist attraction.

The Dominion Post revealed last month that the Defence Force had written a paper outlining plans for 150 homes to be built in "clustered heritage communities" on the peninsula.

It is working with the Conservation Department on the disposal of the land under the Public Works Act.

Next cab off the rank should negotiations with DOC fail is the Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust, which has first right of refusal under the terms of its Treaty of Waitangi settlement.

If the trust should turn down that option, the land would be sold on the open market. It has a current rateable value of $7.26 million.

Mr Bollmann said the Defence Force had no plans to develop the land, which is currently zoned so it cannot be used for commercial or residential developments.

"We are trying to get out of that property and we have been for a number of years. Our objective is to get it out of our control so its future use can be progressed in accordance with local planning guidance and community involvement."

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