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PN Railway Land appeal goes to higher court

PRESS RELEASE, 5 FEB 2004

PALMERSTON NORTH RAILWAY LAND APPEAL GOES TO HIGHER COURT

The Railway Land Action Group has today lodged Notice of Appeal to the Environment Court. [copy appended to this press release] The Notice of Appeal refers to a recent decision of the Environmental Commissioner Paul Cavenagh, QC. His ruling would allow a zone change with extensive special exemptions to suit the Warehouse Ltd.

The Railway Land Action Group, represents thousands of Palmerston North citizens who wish to retain the land permanently as recreational green space. They say they also want to protect the Central Business District shopping area against the creation of another, competing central business district within a kilometre of the existing one, and to protect the surrounding residential areas from the adverse effects of expected extra traffic and noise.

The Action Group is not particularly anti-Warehouse. Most of its members and supporters happily shop at the existing Warehouse on Cuba Street. "We just don't want the Railway Land's beautiful open park space rezoned to allow commercial interests to bulldoze it over and cramp in a monster shop,” says RLAG member, Bruce Thomson. "We are pleading for recreational development of it, giving quality of life for everyone who passes by or walks there."

The issues specified in the Notice of Appeal are as follows, in accordance with the Resource Management Act and the Palmerston North District Plan:

- Breach of the PNCC District plan's documented policy of keeping options open for this piece of land according to the will of the people.

- Failure to confer fairly in advance with the citizens about the effects of development or rezoning, including social and cultural wellbeing of people and communities.

- Proper and community-consented assessment of the economic effects on the Central Business District.

- Insufficient consideration of 'recreational development' of the land, instead of just business development. This to include community, social and cultural uses.

- Sustainable management of natural and physical resources (recreational green space, air quality, humane levels of noise in neighbourhoods).

- Traffic and parking congestion in the immediate vicinity and beyond.

An enquiry to the Environment Court said that the process can to take up to a year before evidence is readied and a hearing date is set.

Bruce Thomson, Railway Land Action Group

Website: http://www.geocities.com/RailwayLand

Internet egroup: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/PalmyRailwayLandReserve2

Form 7 NOTICE OF APPEAL TO ENVIRONMENT COURT AGAINST DECISION ON PROPOSED POLICY STATEMENT OR PLAN

Clause 14(1) of First Schedule. Resource Management Act 1991

To The Registrar

Environment Court

Wellington

We, The Railway Land Action Group Inc, appeal against the whole of a decision of The Palmerston North City Council on the following policy statement (or plan):

Private Plan Change Application by The Warehouse Ltd (Plan Change 17) to the Palmerston North City District Plan to rezone The Railway Land from “Future Development Zone” to “Outer Business Zone”.

We made a submission on Plan Change 17.

We received notice of the decision on 23 December 2003.

The decision was made by Hearing Commissioner Mr Paul T Cavanagh QC on behalf of The Palmerston North City Council.

The land affected is an area of 2.0162 ha of central Palmerston North, historically called the Western Railway Land. It is classed as undeveloped green space located in the future development zone/outer business zone on the residential/fringe central area. It is bounded by Main Street, West Street, Church Street and Cook Street.

The decision that we are appealing is:

We oppose the granting of Plan Change 17 (excluding the observation on page 59 of the decision, which refers to the Eastern portion of The Railway Land).

The reasons for the appeal are as follows:

1. The scale and impact of the adverse effects of the Zone Change have not been adequately assessed, nor have the adverse effects on the Central Business District (CBD) or the Palmerston North City Plan itself.

2. The Plan Change is contrary to sustainable management of natural and physical resources, and the wellbeing of the community, and does not comply with the District Plan. It therefore is unnecessary and undesirable. Specific reasons are as follows:

a) The Plan Change is contrary to the requirements in Sections 5, 6 and 7 of the Act. It fails to give due consideration to Part 2, and there is not enough weight given to the adverse effects of the Plan Change on the social, economic and cultural wellbeing of people and communities.

b) Amenity, urban coherence, heritage values and finite characteristics of natural and physical resources are also not adequately protected, nor has there been a proper assessment of effects on the CBD, the layout of Palmerston North, overall traffic efficiency or the impact of the Plan Change on the District Plan’s integrity.

c) The Plan Change does not comply with policy provisions of the Palmerston North City District Plan.

d) The Plan Change pre-empts the Palmerston North Retail Study (Strategy section).

e) The District Plan’s community consultation provisions require keeping options open according to the will of the community. This Plan Change however is a major departure from that mandate.

The Palmerston North City Council has failed to ascertain the wishes of the community with regard to the land (e.g. we note Section 18.2 of the Future Development Zone which identifies and lists the “Resource Management Issues” pertaining to this zone. In this regard we also note section 84 of the Act requires Local Authorities to act in compliance with their own policy statements and plans). In particular, we refer to the following Resource Management Issues from Section 18.2 of the District Plan:

(i) To avoid, remedy or mitigate any adverse environmental effect arising from the use of the land now and in the future.

(ii) To enable the use of the land for activities which are available for use by the citizens of Palmerston North City and which are consistent with the strategic development of the City.

(iii) The potential for different activities to use the land.

(iv) The wishes of the community with regard to the land, particularly with regard to its use for activities other than open space.

f) The following adverse effects are specified below:

(i) The damage to the amenity is imposed on a piece of land that is a very significant gateway into Palmerston North.

(ii) The community will suffer the permanent loss of a finite resource for future generations.

(iii) There will be cumulative traffic and noise effects in the whole vicinity.

(iv) There will be a loss of the CBD’s integrity, and in effect the creation of another CBD that competes with the present one.

We seek the following relief:

Rejection of Plan Change 17.

We attach the following documents to this notice:

(a) a copy of our submission.

(b) a copy of the relevant decision.

(d) a list of names and addresses of persons to be served with a copy of this notice.

Signature of appellant: ( person authorised to sign on behalf of appellant)

Mrs Marilyn Bulloch, On behalf of The Railway Land Action Group Inc.

P. O. Box 7097 Palmerston North

Phone and Fax: 0(6)357 7338


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