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New Life For Old Factory?

March 1, 2001

An old abandoned Dairy Factory in Waipa could have a new prosperous future if a District Plan zone change application is successful.

The old Bruntwood Dairy Factory ceased its dairy activities a number of years ago and was listed by the old Waikato Country Scheme as an industrial area. Since the adoption of the District Plan by the Waipa District Council in November 1997, the site has been zoned as rural.

One month later a draft plan change was prepared by the applicants in consultation with Council staff in an attempt to restore the site to an industrial zone. Due to other business commitments, the plan change request was not submitted to the Council until October 1999.

Following a meeting with the public submitters in June 2000 and consultation with Council staff who were ready to decline the zone change, a second plan change request was lodged requesting a zone change from rural to general.

The Waipa District Council’s Hearings Committee has now heard both plan changes.

Current owners, Kelvin Falconer and David Elgie, told the committee that they had long-term plans for the factory but they had been stymied by the zoning that had been placed on the factory.

“It’s been very difficult to improve the site as legally I can only graze cattle, but the site does not have a single blade of grass,” Mr Falconer stated. “We cannot see a path ahead, so it is either a case of change the plan or close the site down and let it become a derelict.”

“We have a long term plan for doing up the facility and we have cleaned the site up enormously. We have spent a lot of time and money getting the site up to where it is at.”

“We are talking about putting in the appropriate zoning so that the standards can be applied. You cannot apply the standards without the appropriate zoning in place.”

“The factory currently has 7 occupants. Several of them are involved in the auto industry and the site is mainly used for storage at present. Because of the current short-term nature, the current tenants are not interested in making improvements to the site because they could be asked to move on at short notice.”

A submitter opposing the plan change lives about 10 meters from the factory site.

“We would lose our privacy,” Peter Moody stated. “Windows from the factory look directly into our bedrooms. Currently those sections of the factory are not being used at the moment but as you can see there is already an impact on our privacy.”

“Our fence is not enough to mitigate noise coming from the site. Even casual conversations are quite audible from my lounge.”

Mr Moody stated that he was not against the factory being used, but road safety and water issues also concerned him.

The applicants representative, Alan Matheson, told the committee that the site was once zoned industrial by another Council and neighbors had chosen to live in the area surrounding it with the knowledge that it might one day be used again.

“It is not a matter of the type of activities, it is matter of standards,” Mr Matheson said. “We are wanting a zoning that fits the requirements of the property.”

Some residents stated that the current zoning would be adequate to set the standards but Mr Matheson disagreed.

“The public was heavily involved in the notification process required by Council for the 1998 resource consent application to use the site for a petfood processing factory. The resource consent was granted by WDC but it was appealed by the residents and the client found another location, as they could not wait around for the appeal process. It is proof that the current zoning does not work.”

The Waipa District Council has yet to decide the outcome of the zone change request. “It could take some time,” Committee Chair Diane Sharpe told the applicants.

©2001 Waipa Local Democracy. Electronic publishing permitted. All other rights reserved.

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