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TEN acknowledges and thanks Council for

‘Increased consultation and communication between equestrians and Council generally in recent years; and

for the express recognition of equestrian interests in this draft Strategy; and

for the recognition of TEN as a partner in the Required Actions for collaboration over future shared pathways.’

We would now like to see some further commitment in this strategy to some specific trails and riding areas in addition to the general commitment given on page 36 –“Bridle trails will be considered when planning for the future network of shared pathways, including paper roads”.

The Strategy (page 5) “identifies opportunities for improving and enhancing recreation opportunities, including opportunities for bridle trails, mountain bike tracks and a dog park (as identified during the Community Plan 2009-2019 consultation process)”. This statement provides an excellent foundation for moving forward.

TEN has identified opportunities for bridle trails and would like them now included in this Open Space process. Some have previously been made known to Council and some will be new. We consider it fair and equitable for some specific areas to be included in this Strategy and we note it has been done for road and track cycling, BMX, softball, tennis, netball and indoor sports generally.

The issue for equestrians is that we need trails in local areas for exercising ourselves and our horses. In many places these can co-exist with walking trails. In some places they can co-exist with cycle trails. The provision of paths keeps horses off the roads, it keeps horse poo off the roads and it keeps slow moving horse trucks and horse floats from frustrating other motorists.

Under ‘Councils Role for Facilities’ (pgs 35 and 36), we seek the following be added-

A shared pathway network will be developed at Hickford Park as per plans provided(see reasons below);

Identify 20ha of land at Hickford Park as an Area of Interest for an equestrian facility when sufficient need/demand is demonstrated by TEN and other equestrian groups;

Investigate the concept of a walkway /bridle trail from the top of Wairau Road through Department of Conservation land alongside the Kaitake Ranges to Lucy’s Gully thereby creating a safer link to Ahu Ahu Road and the beach for the equestrian community;

Provide a commitment to explore the Waimoku, Wairau and Oakura Pathway Links as Shared Pathways with equestrians;

Provide a commitment to a shared pathway with equestrians on the provisionally identified Fort St George/Weld Road coastal link.

 

Shared Pathway Network at Hickford Park

(See Proposed Hickford Park Trails Map attached to this submission)

This trail proposal was put before Parks in June 2013.

Reasons for Shared Pathway Network at Hickford Park:

A bridle trail would complement the Coastal Walkway experience as it segues into the rural environment ( the undeveloped part) of Hickford Park .It would be visible from the Coastal Walkway but largely separate from it. It would maximise spectator enjoyment of this unique coastal asset.

Horse-riding as part of the coastal picture enhances the sense of vibrancy and diversity of opportunity that is growing in the New Plymouth area.  District Council support for this initiative would confirm its leadership for embracing change and keeping up with trends nationally and internationally for including equestrian sport in planning regimes.

The public love to see horses being ridden .It confirms their view that New Plymouth provides great lifestyle opportunities that attract people to the district and make them want to stay.

Equestrians have no public area to ride in other than the Lake M Bridle Zone, and that is increasingly out of bounds (closed for 3 weeks for maintenance during the peak riding period this last summer, closed for TSSSA Rogaine, closed for trail running series events, largely un-useable after heavy rain).Another good trail and access to a largely unused beach (Waiwhakaiho to Bell Block) would provide a much needed alternative when the Bridle Zone cannot be used.

Bridle trails would be no cost to Council- they would simply be marked out across existing farmland and in most areas would use existing farm fencing or the race that is there .TEN would partner with NPDC to facilitate their creation and management. A parking area would need discussion as would gating arrangements but TEN is confident this can be negotiated with the grazer on this Council owned land to ensure stock and public safety. It happens elsewhere – see Whareroa Farm Park in Wellington which has just been developed.

North Taranaki has a high equestrian population and Hickford Park is easily accessible from Waitara, Lepperton, Inglewood and NP city and districts.

Space at Hickford Park has already been given to cycling (velodrome) .Under the ‘Councils Role for Facilities’ at pages 35/36 it is stated “Open space provided at Hickford Park for regional and national facilities including road and track cycling and BMX”. Softball is given a second softball diamond .Therefore make this place a family experience as equestrians can bring other family members to enjoy those facilities and the Coastal Walkway whilst also using the bridle trails through the ‘undeveloped’ part of the Park.

TEN has submitted for 7 years seeking access to Hickford Park. In 2008 ,a submission to the LTCCP  said -

 “ Add a bridle path on the inland side of the proposed [ as it was then ] walkway/cycleway from Waiwhakaiho to Bell Block “.

“ NPDC needs to incorporate room for a bridle path in the walkway design. And also provide access to that area from the Waste Water Treatment Plant” ( it was acknowledged that making the Te Rewa Rewa bridge horse friendly would be too expensive).

 

Bridle  trails are contemplated under existing Hickford Park rules –see Policy 5.28.4 (b) of the Coastal Reserve Management Plan 2008-

“The following activities are contemplated within this reserve: organised and casual outdoor recreational uses, walking and cycling trails, equestrian trails, public camping ground. Decisions concerning reserve uses will be based on appropriateness of the activity to the location, funding availability, and feedback from consultation with the public”.

 

Council resolved -26 June 2012-“Consideration be given to the provision of bridle trails and other equestrian facilities as part of the development of the Recreation and Open Space Strategy due to commence in July 2012”. Therefore it is respectfully suggested that now is the time for this resolution to be activated.

Bridle trails for Hickford Park would provide the perfect opportunity for family outings- non horsey parents and grandparents could enjoy the walking and cycling whilst horse riders enjoyed a seaside experience as well. This is consistent with the ‘sporting hub ‘or ‘sportsville’model being proposed by Council – see p.52 of Strategy - “Support the development of a sportsville model at Hickford Park to support the community and regional sporting activities located and proposed for this park “.

 

Identify 20ha of land at Hickford Park (or other suitable council land) to be used on occasion for eventing.

The critical need is to create a cross country course (approximately 20 to 25 jumps) which would be at equestrian’s expense. A small area may need to be leveled and re-grassed for up to 4 dressage arenas (each only 20m’s x 40m’s in size) and a jumping area (100m x 100m). It may be used to hold a one day event twice a year and some practice days. Farming would continue around it and it would be at no cost to ratepayers. When not in use, it would simply continue to be operated as a farm just as eventing courses have been in the past.

Taranaki used to have 7 cross country courses available. Now it only has 2.This is due to farms being sold and no new ones being found. This means Taranaki eventers have two places to practice their sport and two courses are inadequate to create local eventing competition or the practice courses for our advanced level competition.

The trend nationally is for councils to provide land for eventing facilities (Taupo Equestrian Centre, Waikato Equestrian Centre, McLean’s Island , Marlborough Equestrian Centre ,to name a few )and the development is then privately funded. TEN seeks a commitment from Council to pursue this concept.

 

Oakura situation

Oakura is a very ‘horsey’ area. ‘Horsey’ areas should be supported and encouraged as they are developed into expensive lifestyle real estate which have important economic benefits for the community. Apart from the beach and roads, there are no public areas in Oakura for riding and TEN would like points 3, 4 and 5 above specifically included in this Strategy. It is understood that Council is supportive of the bridle trail concept for Fort St George / Weld Road already. It was very pleasing to see this development including in concept a bridle trail.

Need for Consultation on Paper Roads

Under ‘Required Actions’ on pg 47 it states

‘9. Continue to consider horse riding and mountain biking when planning for the future network of shared pathways, including paper roads and collaborate with recreational groups during their development. Partners listed as “Parks, Taranaki Equestrian Network, Pony Club, sports clubs “

TEN ask that Council officers be obligated to consult with TEN each time an application is made to close or alter a paper road in a rural or semi-rural area. These are either current or future bridle trails and equestrians are potentially affected each time one closes. It is so important that paper roads are not overlooked as potential riding areas-they are local and no cost and we are gradually losing them without being considered.

Summary

The draft Strategy provides an insightful starting point for an overview of recreational space and trying to balance the needs of the community with other demands.

TEN invites Council to look past the idea that equestrians have 4 pony club grounds in the district and that that should satisfy equestrian needs. The grounds are nearly all located on ‘waste ‘ areas , apart from NPPC’s grounds, and are generally a zero cost/zero management solution for problem areas for council. However the pony clubs don’t generally allow free access to other horse riders so this excludes all riders over 21 years of age. There are a lot of equestrians in that category.

So there is a real need for other areas for people to ride-all we really have at present is the Bridle Zone. Like any intelligent creature, horses need some variety for their exercise needs so we ask Council to provide for this in the low cost /low impact ways we have suggested above. We are more than happy to provide further detail or evidence in support of our requests if that is desired.