10 Nov 2012

Controversial Oamaru subdivision may go on hold

6:32 am on 10 November 2012

A North Otago council says it may put a controversial subdivision in Oamaru on hold despite winning parliamentary approval.

A select committee has recommended the council be given clear title to a hillside reserve so it can proceed with the stalled Forrester Heights housing development.

After a seven-year push, the committee has agreed the land below Oamaru's Lookout Point is designated a reserve only because of an administrative mistake in 1937.

The view from Oamaru's Lookout Point, site of the proposed subdivision.

The view from Oamaru's Lookout Point, site of the proposed subdivision. Photo: RNZ

The land rises up to spectacular views of the town and bay but the terrain is steep, and underneath there are enormous caves, some more than 10 metres high.

Waitaki District Council chief executive Michael Ross says he is pleased the council's long-held stance has been vindicated, but since the market for $300,000 sections is not what it was, the subdivision may slip down the council's project list.

The Waitaki Concerned Citizens and Ratepayers group wants the Forrester Heights project dumped altogether because of the financial risk of the steep land slumping in severe rain or during an earthquake.

Chairman Warren Crawford says the caves in the land underneath, called under-runners, go back under the land for hundreds of metres, threatening the stability of the whole hillside.