20 Nov 2015

Freedom camping rule sparks outrage

7:36 pm on 20 November 2015

A proposal to extend the number of days freedom campers can park up on public land has sparked outrage among some Christchurch residents, who fear their neighbourhoods will be left in a mess.

Campervan

Photo: AFP

Christchurch City Council has proposed a by-law which would increase the number of days campers without toilets are allowed to stay in some parts of the city, from three nights to five.

The by-law is being introduced in response to complaints from New Brighton residents, who clashed with campers earlier this year.

Residents had complained campers were using public facilities to wash dishes and shower.

The council has set aside three areas, each with public toilets, for campers who do not have access to their own toilet.

Sections in Brooklands, Woolston and Addington have been designated.

There were just 20 households in the Brooklands section due to it being red-zoned after the quakes, and residents are concerned their suburb could become a magnate for hundreds of campers.

"This time of year there's whitebaiters down there, there's people in the summer who use the lagoon for water skiing and boating...that's what the facility's there for, there's going to be trouble, I'm telling you now," resident Stephen Bourke said.

Brooklands has just one single public toilet and is not set up to cope with free loading tourists, Mr Bourke said.

"The council are going to have to come out every day and clean up the rubbish.

"Normally the police and the council rely on the community to inform them of issues.

"Well there's not many people out here and I can imagine things getting right out of hand."

Resident Jan Burney was also predicting trouble and said just last night her husband had to confront a freedom camper who decided to park up next to their home.

"I have doubts they will respect the area. I've picked up dirty nappies, car loads of rubbish dumped out of the cars where they've camped up before."

One of the councillors charged with listening to public submissions on the by-law and coming up with a final set of recommendations was David East.

The council felt obliged to increase the length of time campers were allowed to stay after tightening up on rules for campers with toilets in the rest of Christchurch and Banks Peninsula.

"It was more of a balance that we have restricted the rest of the city to two days and these three areas are essentially for the non-self-contained camper vans. Originally there's been no limits."

Mr East didn't anticipate any clashes between campers and locals in Brooklands.

"It's right at the end of a red zoned area, there are no residences within several hundred metres of the area."

Security guards were likely to be hired to monitor the campers, he said.