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Conflict over mountain-biking tracks in Urumau Reserve

Laura Grigg
Arwen Sommer
Steven Walton
urumau reserve
Plant life in Lyttelton's Urumau Reserve Arwen Sommer

The Banks Peninsula Community Board has delayed a development plan for Lyttelton's Urumau Reserve after public concern over legality and environmental impact of mountain-biking tracks.

The board tabled a report at its April 16 meeting, while it seeks answers to problems raised around the legality and environmental impacts of mountain-biking tracks.

Public submissions state some of the existing tracks, as well as those proposed in the 2018 development plan, do not take into account environmental impacts on the historic reserve land, some of which has been untouched since the 1800s.

Lyttelton Reserve management committee chairperson Wendy Everingham, who was the first of 10 people to present a submission at the board meeting, said the Christchurch City Council had failed to consult environmental experts for the design of new tracks.

She described Urumau as a "sensitive environmental zone". The small remnants of forest left in the reserve should be preserved and regenerated, Everingham said.

This goal was backed up by another public submitter, Liz Briggs, who has experience as a planning consultant in reserves. She called for an environmental impact analysis to be carried out in Urumau Reserve before any further development plans were considered.

Lyttelton Reserve Management Committee Secretary Brian Downey raised legal issues. Only three of the nine tracks in Urumau had been legally authorised, he said.

Lyttelton Mountain Bike Club president Greg Jack said Urumau Reserve was the only place near Lyttelton suitable for mountain biking. The tracks could link up with the Port Hills system, he said.

"We are willing and able to build and maintain tracks," he said.

The Community Board will make a decision on the plan's future pending analysis of the environmental and legal issues.