Railway land gets reserve status

23:00, Feb 08 2010

What remains of former railway land in Palmerston North is set to be protected as a recreational reserve.

That will make it harder for the city council to sell the land at the fringe of the city centre between Church St and Main St west.

The land has been used for events such as the Young Farmers Contest, circuses and the gypsy fair. It also has a skate park. The city council's community well-being committee yesterday voted to change the land's status from recreational zoning to recreational reserve. Councillor Bruce Wilson said the council had dragged its feet. "This is public space. It's critical." Councillor Michael Feyen said the land was now "postage-stamp size".

The western end of the Railway Land was sold to The Warehouse in 2002, but legal action prevented the store from being built and opening until 2005.

Railway Land Action Group chairwoman Marilyn Bulloch said she was very pleased that progress on having the land protected was finally being made. "There is a tinge of sadness that action has been so slow," she said. The group formed in 1993 when UCOL proposed to build a "polytechnic in the park" and 13,000 signatures were gathered in opposition to that project.

Reserve status makes it harder to sell because the council would first have to revoke that status and then get approval from the conservation minister.

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