The sale of more than 5 hectares of unused land at Wairau Hospital, in Blenheim, is a step closer as the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board prepares to subdivide it.
However, a resolution could still be some way off.
For more than four years, the board tried to get the reserve status covering the land since 1928 changed so it could be sold. That happened last year.
This freed it up for subdivision, either into a single large block or in separate titles, which the health board was working on. However, board secretary Mike Cummins said once it was subdivided and registered, the health minister must agree to the specific land title that would be sold.
The subdivision would then have to go through the Office of Treaty Settlements to be considered for possible use in Treaty of Waitangi settlements before being offered on the open market.
Mr Cummins had hoped the sale would be through by about June, but yesterday he could not give a time frame. "How long is a piece of string?"
The sale process had been going for "many years", he said.
Proceeds from the sale had been anticipated to help plug a health board budget deficit that by the end of the last financial year had grown to $5 million.
The extra funds had originally been budgeted to go towards the $45.7m rebuild of Wairau Hospital.
Potential buyers had already shown interest, but Mr Cummins said the board was not in negotiations with anyone.
He would not reveal the value of the land, which in 2005 was $3m for 5.6ha, saying this could affect the sale.
Since then, the area of land has been reduced to 5.18ha so as to even out the boundary lines.
Mr Cummins said the land would be sold in one block, with the buyer free to decide if it would be divided up.
He believed the land was zoned residential.
"We won't be prescribing what it will be used for other than it wouldn't be used for medical services that would be in competition to the hospital."
In the meantime, Mr Cummins said the board was in discussions with the Marlborough District Council about whether the land, which was bare apart from some old trees, would need to be modified before it could be put up for sale.
- The Marlborough Express