Matheson 52ha to be cut in six
Pakiri farmer John Matheson has won resource consent for a six-house subdivision on 51.7ha behind the dunes at the southern end of the beach, next to the Arrigato property which has been the subject of five years of litigation over built intrusion into a special coastal character area.
But Mr Matheson has lost more development right than he wanted to on a second 94.2ha property he owns immediately south of the Arrigato property. Covenanting of this second, south-facing property, 3km away on a hill above the cliffs between Pakiri and Leigh, was used to add two house sites to the beachfront subdivision.
Houses in the northern Matheson subdivision will all be restricted to 4.5m in height. An Auckland Regional Council submission specifying less intrusive building sites on two lots was not carried through to the consent conditions imposed by Ken Graham, Rodney District’s principal hearings commissioner since the resignation and suspension of the district council last April, and commissioner Suzanne Sinclair.
On the Arrigato property, developer Ian Gillespie won Environment Court approval to create 14 rural-residential lots on 149ha, which was in six titles. This approval, which came with judicial support for the extensive revegetation of the hillside above the southern end of Pakiri Beach, was overturned in the High Court and an appeal to the Court of Appeal is pending, although the property is in the hands of new owners.
Because the houses on the beachfront Matheson property will largely be obscured from the beach by dunes and pohutukawa, there is not such an extensive landscaping plan.
Started with boundary relocation
The original Matheson application was for a boundary relocation, even though the southern lots were 3km away. Because the district council’s plan change 55 says sites in a boundary relocation should abut each other or lie within a contiguous area, reporting planner Barry Macdonell said the plan change’s transferable title rights mechanism was considered more appropriate.
On the way to the application’s being presented, the council’s proposed district plan was released with the provision for minor dwellings removed. As lifestyle development put increasing pressure on rural areas, this provision for a second farm dwelling was increasingly being abused.
Mr Matheson subdivided two beachfront lots at the beginning of 2000, into a 9999mÂ² section and a 15.8ha lot. In the new subdivision, the larger of those two lots is now cut in three â€” another 9999mÂ² section and two larger lots of 8.7ha and 6.1ha.
Next to all that, a 1.8ha lot has been cut out just behind the coastal protection yard, a 32.4ha lot rises steeply from the dunes to an unformed road, and this larger lot has been given an ownership tie with a seventh lot of 6900mÂ². This piece of subdivision seems to comply with the proposed plan change, allowing a rural-residential slice if at least 2ha of significant native bush is to be protected.
The three-way division of the 15.8ha lot has too small a parent site under the operative district plan, not enough bush to covenant and calls for two extra lots rather than one, which on its own would be non-complying.
Stretching the rules, and covenants to match
Enter Rodney’s transferable title rights provisions in countryside living 2 (town) activity areas, which this piece of farm plainly isn’t. The recipient land is in one special character activity area, Mangawhai-Pakiri, while the donor property, the southern Matheson farm, is in another of these special areas, the adjoining Leigh one. In the southern area, two small titles will be tied for resale purposes to the main farm area.
The regional council fought the Arrigato subdivision, despite the positive aspect of considerable revegetation and mostly large lot sizes, and for the southern Matheson property the council won a development cut-off line some distance down from the ridge.
At the second hearing on the application, on 1 February, Mr Matheson’s planning advocate, Tony Hayman, said the regional council wanted to covenant 90% of the property and the Mathesons wanted about 50%. Commissioner Graham went for the regional council-proposed line, putting a caveat on new buildings above it.
Mr Hayman charged that this was “nothing more than a blatant attempt to create private reserves for the public goodâ€¦ The ARC is still using the Resource Management Act to get something for nothing here.”
The most coherent versions of the whole proposal were the written submissions of downtown Auckland lawyers Simon Reeves, who has owned a 6.8ha property in the Pakiri valley back from the Matheson site for 25 years, and Russell McVeagh lawyer Andrew Royle, on behalf of a senior partner in that firm, Fred Thorp â€” who happens to own the most prominent house in the whole neighbourhood.