Freedom camping restricted

The freedom camping site at Collins Memorial Reserve on SH1 in Koromiko
between Picton and Blenheim could be scrapped.

The freedom camping site at Collins Memorial Reserve on SH1 in Koromiko between Picton and Blenheim could be scrapped.

The controversial freedom camping spot at Koromiko, between Blenheim and Picton, could be scrapped under draft proposals by the Marlborough District Council.

It follows a four-month summer trial which increased the number of restricted freedom camping sites in Marlborough.

At a meeting of the council's assets and services committee on Tuesday the council rubber stamped a draft plan where freedom camping is prohibited or restricted.

The council proposed no freedom camping at Collins Memorial Reserve in Koromiko and along Freeths Rd in Koromiko, Picton foreshore, Bluegum Reserve in Rarangi and Penzance jetty car park and on Kamhi Rd.

Freedom camping could also be banned on Tunnicliff Reserve, The Parade Esplanade Reserve and Okiwi Bay Reserve, in Okiwi Bay and Seddon Domain.

However, freedom camping with restrictions is proposed at Blenheim's A&P Park, Picton's Waitohi Domain, the Blenheim Railway Station and Blenheim's Wynen St car park.

The draft will go out to public consultation and submissions will be heard at a hearing.

Council reserves and amenities manager Rosie Bartlett said more people were using non-self-contained vehicles.

Marlborough wanted to be seen as welcoming toward freedom campers in a way that didn't interfere with the community or cause damage to the environment, Bartlett said.

There were 3504 freedom campers in Picton and 1130 in Blenheim during the summer trial. The most popular sites were Waitohi Domain, in Picton, with 2221 campers and Collins Memorial, in Koromiko, with 982.

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Blenheim's A&P Park had 390 campers but Wynen St car park in Blenheim fell flat with just six campers.

Campers had been more compliant and the number who had to be moved on from prohibited or restricted sites fell from more than 400 campers in 2013, to around 170 in 2014.

Freedom camping in Picton posed a particular problem. Travellers catching the ferry or coming off the ferry, needed a stop over at night but many weren't prepared to pay for campgrounds, Bartlett said.

Picton foreshore car park had 10 spaces for self-contained freedom camping available during the trial but under the proposal camping would not continue.

The biggest change is a proposed ban on freedom camping in the Collins Memorial Reserve.

The reserve was usually crammed with up to 50 cars a night causing problems for reserve users and adjoining homes, Bartlett said.

Over summer it was restricted to 12 cars a night and a council ranger had to move on 117 freedom campers to Waitohi and Renwick Domain.

Bartlett said continuing to permit freedom camping whilst restricting numbers would require intensive monitoring and council time and resources. If Waitohi Domain in Picton was opened to freedom campers, Koromiko would not be needed, Bartlett said.

Subject to resource consent, the council could open up the old playing fields in Waitohi to campers.

Councillor Terry Sloan said people had been caught sleeping in the pens at Blenheim's A&P Park

"Who knows what they were doing rolling in the hay there."

Council will accept public submissions until May 15 through freedomcampingsubmission@marlborough.govt.nz.

 - The Marlborough Express

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