Inner city site has ‘proved its worth’

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The success of the Thomas Burns St car park freedom camping experiment has helped relieve the pressure on the city’s other main sites – Warrington, Ocean View and Brighton.

Waikouaiti Coast Community Board chairman Alasdair Morrison said numbers of freedom campers at Warrington Domain had been significantly down on the previous season, but demand was still quite high.

“This season, we averaged about 60 to 70, which was thankfully nowhere near the peak of 170 vehicles that we had,” Mr Morrison said.

Although the freedom camping season officially finished at the end of April, an average of 17 vehicles a night stayed at Warrington in May, and campers were still arriving in June.

A couple of small refinements, such as the creation of a “hard stand” area for vehicles, had been positive, he said.

Mr Morrison praised the council for its successful Thomas Burns St freedom camping trial, which had “really proved its worth”.

He urged the council to use the site again next season, and to also look at opening up more inner-city space.

“The campers like being close to the centre of town, and they are spending money in the supermarkets, bars and restaurants.

Saddle Hill Community Board chairman Scott Weatherall said it had been a “very good summer” in relation to freedom camping in his board area.

The freedom camping site at Ocean View “went really well this year”, apart from one potentially disastrous incident involving fireworks.

The upgrades at the site, such as portaloos and concrete parking blocks, “really tidied this site up this year, along with good monitoring from the security contractors”.

The freedom camping site at Brighton Domain had also “worked great”, with manageable numbers of of campers.

The new gravelled area was “spot on”, and the portaloos were “brilliant”, Mr Weatherall said.

However, the portaloos might be moved for next season so they would be less visible from some homes, he said.

He applauded the “really great monitoring this year from the security team” at the domain.

Freedom campers, mostly self-contained, continued to park in the lay-bys between Brighton and Taieri Mouth.

“I have not received any complaints or concerns from the community this year about these guys.”

Mr Weatherall supported the Dunedin City Council and Department of Conservation initiative of a park ranger programme.

“The warm and friendly meeter-and-greeter does a positive PR role – I support this becoming an annual expense, especially if it is self-funding.”