Posted by on 14/01/2014
The Thames Coromandel District Council (TCDC) has committed $1.5 million to a project that will create a coastal walkway along the Coromandel coastline. TCDC will also apply to the government for a further $3 million.
The Coromandel Great Walks Project aims to link the whole district through a variety of great walks around the coastline and across the spine of the Coromandel. Stage One of the project is being developed in a collaborative partnership with a number of agencies, local iwi, community groups and landowners.
Several studies are about to be commissioned co-funded by Council and DoC.
A project committee comprising Council, iwi, Coastal Walkways and DoC staff was established almost a year ago and have been working behind the scenes. "We haven't been in a position to give details around the project until now, due to sensitivities around negotiations of where a proposed route will go," says TCDC Mayor Glen Leach. "And it will also take at least a year or more of behind the scenes work again before there's a sound proposal to look at."
Preliminary survey work has been completed and the ideal route of walking around the coastline and cliffs from Hot Water Beach to Hahei has been discounted. At three pinch points the 'Queens Chain' does not exist as it has fallen away into the water.
"We had the surveys done early as we needed to know for sure if we could or could not gain access around the coastline. Now that we know we can't we will continue discussions with the private land owners over gaining access through their properties" said Mayor Leach " Until these discussions are completed and easements have been agreed to there is little we can do at that section of the walk."
One obvious problem the Walk will create is parking congestion and this has been highlighted in the feasibiilty study. Additional parking for up to 1000 cars will needed between Hahei and Hot Water Beach. The project team are looking at a number of options including utilising Council land, private / public partnerships with land owners and the leasing and purchase of land parcels.
"Getting people to and from the Walk by land or sea is a big part of the plan and a lot of logistical work needs to be done in this area, once again a number of private land owners are part of this discussion and we need to respect their privacy as we work through the issues" says Mayor Leach.
In November Council pledged $1.25m towards the project subject to further consultation through the 2014/2015 Annual Plan process. Council has also applied to central government for $3m of external funding and decision expected early next year
"It has taken 35 years and many attempts by many groups to build a connecting walk between these two iconic sites and beyond, all have failed for one reason or another. With Council Iwi and DoC teaming up for the first time we have a good chance of success. We need time to build the framework, put the jigsaw pieces into place," says Mayor Leach.
Public meetings will be arranged to present a plan. People will also be able to make a submission about the Walks in the 2014/2015 Draft Annual Plan.
"Right now we're keeping communities up-to-date through communication with ratepayer groups, the Mercury Bay Business Association, Coastal Walkways and other community organisations," says Mayor Leach.
"This walk has so much potential to increase visitor numbers and create business growth and job opportunities for our local communities," says Mayor Leach. "We will also be able to promote and preserve the environment and showcase what is so beautiful about the Coromandel."
The proposed Cathedral Coast Walk is part of Council's Coromandel Great Walks Project.