Private structures on public land are being phased out, as set out under the Conservation General Policy and Wellington Conservation Management Strategy 2019 (CMS). The majority of the baches at Ocean Beach are on public conservation land.
DOC manages public land for the benefit of the people of New Zealand and it is not appropriate for individuals to have accommodation for exclusive private use. One of the principles of public conservation land is open access to the public.
The Wellington CMS requires that decisions be made on the future use and management of baches at Ocean Beach. Any baches not opened up to the public by 2029 will be removed or repurposed.
About the Ocean Beach baches
Approximately 50 baches were built at Ocean Beach in the Wairarapa in the 1950s.
When DOC was established in 1987 it took over the management of the public conservation land at Ocean Beach. Some of the baches were then authorised in the form of a concession. All of these concessions expired in 2019 and have not been renewed.
There are no current licences or authorisations in place for any of the baches at Ocean Beach.
Why are the baches being opened to the public
The privately owned baches are on public conservation land. One of the principles of public conservation land is open access to the public and privately-owned structures sit at odds with this.
Providing public access to the baches opens the opportunity for members of the public to access, enjoy and experience the unique heritage and culture of Ocean Beach.
Wellington Conservation Management Strategy
Private structures on public conservation land are not authorised under the Conservation General Policy and Wellington Conservation Strategy (CMS) 2019.
Under the old Wellington CMS baches at Ocean Beach would have been removed. The Wellington CMS review acknowledged the special connections many people have with the baches and enabled them to be kept under a public use model.
The Wellington CMS became operative in January 2019 after an extensive public consultation process. Submissions were made by Ocean Beach bach owners as well as a submission from the Ocean Beach Residents Association on behalf of all bach owners.
Phasing in public access
The process for how baches are retained and opened up to the public is yet to be determined. We intend to work through how this is managed with bach owners.
Full criteria are still being developed, but will include the following general principles:
- the style and character of the baches must remain essentially unmodified
- baches will need to be available for members of the public to book via an organisation that provides open membership
- standards will need to be met to ensure the bach will not pose a health and safety risk to users.
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