A request for $150,000 funding towards improving irrigation at the Cromwell Racecourse should be deferred until a development plan has been prepared for the land in question, a Central Otago District Council officer has recommended.

The Cromwell Lakes Equestrian Club has asked the Cromwell Community Board for the money towards a $450,000 irrigation project at the 91.34ha racecourse, for which the club holds the lease.

The club has held the lease since 2007 and has the right of renewal until the lease expires in 2042.

It does not run race events itself, but leases out the racecourse for racing and community events such as fetes, music festivals and rallies. The grounds are also used for horse trials and pony club events.

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The club also generated income by leasing out land at the racecourse for horse grazing, a report from Vincent and Teviot Valley property and facilities officer Christina Martin said.
The club now wanted to further develop the land to provide more paddocks to sublease, but to do so needed to improve its irrigation supply, Ms Martin said.

The club has inherited a bore on the northern side of the racecourse from a past lessee, and will use it to irrigate the northern end of the land. It will also use the irrigation to develop "a more aesthetically pleasing entrance to the racecourse through landscaping''.

It hopes the $450,000 irrigation project will be funded by $150,000 from the community board, $50,000 from the club and $250,000 in grants.

However, Ms Martin's report recommends the board defer its decision on whether to provide $150,000 until the club submits a minimum five-year development and land-use plan, and until the funding and land requirements resulting from the Cromwell Masterplan are known.

The Dunstan Equestrian Centre in Alexandra had recently provided the council with a five-year development plan, and it would be "advisable'' for the board to have a similar document before deciding to allocate funding, Ms Martin said.

Her report also said the board might wish to consider recommending the club amend its constitution, to further strengthen the connection of the Cromwell Lakes Equestrian Centre as a community amenity.

"Providing a racecourse is not a core service of council in terms of the Local Government Act.

"However, as the club has demonstrated that they encourage general public use of their amenities on the racecourse reserve, it could be reasoned that the property is a community amenity.''

The board will discuss the issue at its meeting tomorrow.
pam.jones@odt.co.nz