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Cornes Paddock in the Karangahake Gorge will be turned into a permanent car park to accommodate visitors to the area. Photo: KELLEY TANTAU

Construction to begin on gorge car park

Work is about to begin on a new car park in the Karangahake Gorge, after the district council sought legal advice to put any opposition to the project “to bed”.
Hauraki district councillors unanimously made a decision back in November, 2021 to develop the tourist hotspot along State Highway 2 – starting with the creation of a car park off County Rd into Cornes Paddock.
But residents who neighbour the chosen site came up against council on numerous occasions, continuously calling for the project to be scrapped, or put in another location.
They also argued that because the reserve was classified as a recreational reserve, a permanent car park was not legally allowed.
However, Mayor Toby Adams has announced that there is no need to change the reserve classification, and that construction will soon be underway at the site. “The project has been a long time in the making, and there has been some opposition to the development.
“To put the matter to bed, council has had legal advice to ensure that we are able to construct a car park on the site, without the need to change the reserve classification.”
Construction will be finished in time for the Christmas period, and council has asked that visitors stay away from the construction site, for their safety, until the work is finished.
The Profile earlier reported that under stage one, a metal car park, a perimeter fence, and planting would be installed at Cornes Paddock. Stage two would see the car park sealed. It will be open seven days a week.
The reserve has previously been used as an alternative car park, but only in dry weather.
The project will now offer a permanent, alternative overflow car park for the busy summer period as well as other busy times, council said.
In a November 27 letter to the editor, Karangahake resident Claire Flannery said the current overflow parking was not used during the week; when it’s raining; and only barely on public holidays.
She said reserves were in limited supply and Cornes Paddock was a green space for future generations.
“So seeing as it’s not utilised by tourists, and unwanted by the community, and questionable as to whether it’s compliant with the district plan or reserves management plan, and causes safety issues of Karangahake residents, who is this car park for?”
Council stated it would like to work with iwi in the future to develop the area and provide a safe off-road link to the Hauraki Rail Trail.