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Changing scenery . . . A $4million indoor equestrian arena and eco-friendly accommodation is planned for the former Gore hospital site (bottom field) next to the Gore A&P Showgrounds and the all-weather outdoor arena. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

The Gore District Council is keen to secure its slice of the Government’s multibillion-dollar provincial growth fund to build a $4million indoor equestrian arena and eco-friendly accommodation.

The $1billion per annum fund is being promoted by Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones.

Gore Mayor Tracy Hicks said the council wanted the equestrian project to be considered for funding.

The project proposal had moved from investigation phase to developing detailed planning after gaining the approval of the Southland Territorial Advisory Group, the Southland Mayoral Forum and the Gore District Council on Monday.

Council communications/marketing manager Sonia Gerken said the council’s contribution would be the site and staff time. No ratepayer funding would be used.

Council parks and reserves manager Ian Soper said the viability of the project hinged on securing funding from central government.

He said it was proposed the indoor arena would be about 80m by 60m.

included the building of up to 12 eco-friendly low-carbon-footprint, solar-powered units.

There would also be parking space for mobile homes and horse floats and trucks.

The council bought the former Gore hospital site adjacent to the Gore A&P Showgrounds late last year, and that will be incorporated into the development.

If the development goes ahead it will include a high-end equestrian centre of excellence.

“Also there’s potential for eco-cabins,” Mr Hicks said.

“That’s just one of the ideas in the mix.”

Mrs Gerken said there was already high use of the showgrounds’ facilities such as the all-weather arena by equestrian groups.

“It’s really to build on that potential,” Mrs Gerken said of the proposed indoor arena.

“We have support from equestrian groups throughout the South Island and nationally.

“We’re really looking forward to fleshing out this project.”

One of the aims was to attract visitors to stay longer and to use Gore as a base to explore the rest of

“The idea of an indoor arena was in response to growth being experienced by Southland equestrian groups who have based themselves at Gore for the last six years, and to celebrate Gore’s illustrious racing past,” Mrs Gerken said.

The council has two other projects it hopes to put up for funding from the provincial growth fund.

They are the Gore heritage precinct and moonshine distillery project and the Hokonui Highway project which aims to help teens succeed.