The Cornwall Park Trust Board says a "vocal campaign by a small group of leaseholders" has had a bad effect and it is disappointed at the damage they are doing.

Board chairman John McConnell was reacting to a new petition by some leaseholders, headlined Stop the Cornwall Park Trust Board forcing families from their homes and seeking support to "stop charging higher than market rents, provide compensation if leaseholders leave".

Read more: Cornwall Park activists launch campaign

But McConnell said the group was not big nor representative and was out for financial gain.

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"We are aware that the vocal campaign of the small group of leaseholders trying to buy their properties for their own gain has had a bad effect on the market confidence. We are very disappointed at the damage this does to the situation of the great majority of leaseholders," McConnell said.

"All of us on the trust board understand the impact the Auckland property market has had on some lessees. Rises in property values affect both buyers, and those on leases, and the Cornwall Park area has seen substantial increases," he said.

John L McConnell, a Wheturangi Rd leaseholder and a member of a group who launched the campaign, said today more than 300 people had signed the petition and 17 of the board's homes were "abandoned and untenanted".

But the board's McConnell said the rents were fair and equitable and he was unaware of empty properties.

"The rental average at Cornwall Park in fact currently stands at approximately $40,000 per annum or $770/week, a competitive amount for the prime park-side location and well below some of the individual examples cited. Contrary to the impression created by this petition, Cornwall Park rentals have been independently assessed as the lowest of their type in the Auckland market for properties of this kind.

John McConnell, board chairman.
John McConnell, board chairman.

"When Sir John Logan Campbell gave the park to the public he also gifted extra land to provide lease income. He did this so as to provide the park for all New Zealanders to use, free of charge of either rates or taxes.

"By contrast, the desire by some lessees to their own freehold properties conflict directly with the purpose of the endowment Sir John Logan Campbell provided to ensure the park was a gift for the enjoyment of everyone. The trust has no need to sell any land, let alone this valuable heritage investment," the board's McConnell said.

The leases were perpetually renewable and come up for review or renewal every 21 years with the new rent independently reviewed and reset based on current land values.

"All lessees are independently advised and when they first take up a lease they enter into the lease willingly, with full knowledge of the terms. Leases are bought and sold on the open market, on terms agreed between the parties. The great majority of lessees pay their ground rent on time, with very few in arrears, and where there are difficulties the trust board will always work with them to try and resolve the situation," McConnell said.

"We are not aware of any empty lessee houses, and how lessees use their dwelling is of course a matter for them. There are very few properties in arrears and the lease structure is in good heart. We do not accept the fears expressed, of large numbers needing to leave."