Published 6 February 2008
Auckland Regional Council has filed an appeal to the Environment Court against consent granted in December for an exclusive 150-dwelling development on part of the 840ha Weiti Forest Park, on the Rodney District side of the Okura Estuary.
However, after confidential discussion by the council’s regional strategy & planning committee on Tuesday, councillors told staff to expedite settlement discussions with developer Evan Williams, of Williams Land Ltd.
Rodney District Council & the ARC held a joint hearing on the Williams project in November and issued separate consent decisions a week before Christmas.
The committee was told on Tuesday, in the monthly policy implementation report, the ARC had lodged a submission “in general support of the application”. Mr Williams had put various scenarios to the councils – one for 200 dwellings, one for 600 and another for 1500, but eventually opted to apply for the permitted 150. The ARC had opposed all these schemes, but at the hearing said it would switch to supporting the 150-lot subdivision.
In its appeal, it wants changes made which the 2 sets of commissioners didn’t accept, reducing the impact in a “heritage protection zone”, further reducing the number of lots – possibly to 100, which would put the project’s economic viability in doubt and therefore effectively kill development – and limiting future development.
Numerous propositions for development near the Okura Estuary on Weiti Station have been put forward over the past 15 years, all strenuously opposed by people who believe any development will seriously affect the estuary’s quality.
The Williams residential development area will occupy 26% of the forest park and buildings will cover 3.3% of it – the subdivision will occupy 47% of the 216ha which existing zoning allows for. Houses will be set back as much as 400m from the coastline.
Harry Bhana, the commissioner who heard the land use application for the Rodney council, said in his reasons for his decision: “Although the proposed development will have some adverse effects on the amenity values associated with the relatively undeveloped character of the area, and in particular on the amenity values of those using the coastal walkway, the change in character that will arise is an inevitable result of the zoning that has applied in this area for the past 20 years.”
Attribution: ARC meeting & agenda, hearing agendas & decisions, story written by Bob Dey for this website.