The race is officially on for a trust to raise $350,000 within 12 months so it can purchase a piece of land near Brightwater to gift back to the community.
The Snowden’s Bush Trust is a charitable trust created by a group of Brightwater residents who were fearful that 3,500m² owned by the Nelson Diocesan Trust, was going to be turned into a housing development.
Snowden’s Bush covers over five hectares on Waimea West Road and is a rare example of the podocarp forest that once covered much of the area. Crucially, it is one of the last surviving native lowland bush areas of the Waimea Plains. So the group of residents set about saving it, by buying and donating the land to the Department of Conservation.
On Friday the two trusts signed an agreement to give the community group 12 months to raise the money. Snowden’s Bush Trust chair Jeremy Cameron says the occasion marked a formal commitment from the Diocese to give them the time it needed.
“Now the trust and the community need to go ahead and raise the rest of this money.” Donations can be made through the Trust’s Facebook page, through Givealittle or through their website www.snowdensbushtrust.nz.
The whole process started in July 2018 thanks to the initiative of Janice Gibbs, who has been living in Brightwater for the last 10 years.
“It started when the church applied to change the use of the land here,” she says.
According to Janice, a notice was put out to inform the community that the land would be subdivided to build eight houses.
“I felt that it should be kept as a reserve for the community,” she says.
“It’s for the young people of Brightwater and the community”.
Alan Wright, from the Brightwater Parish, says that the price of $350,000 is a discount of some 30 percent of its market value of $500,000.
“I think the people should support it because it will become a community asset and perpetuate it for generations to come.”
He says the money from the sale will be used for the Brightwater Vicarage.
” The Church gratefully acknowledges and thanks David Allpress and John Fitchett of the Diocesan Trust Board for the many hours of expert guidance and input they have both contributed in attending to all the details of the process to enable this exciting stage for the long term future of this land to be realized,” says Alan.
Snowden family descendent Trina Forsythe says the land was her great-grandparents’ property and her grandfather grew up there.
“I would like the whole area to be included in the bush because it would be a shame to have houses built on it”.
Nelson MP Nick Smith, who is also a trustee, says the housing development would have been “a tragedy” for Brightwater and for the Nelson region.
“We have got a big job ahead to try to persuade the Brightwater community and also the whole region to support us in our fundraising.”