Swanson Structure Plan process to continue
Media Release 13 July 04
Swanson Structure Plan process to continue in Waitakere
Waitakere City Council’s Environmental Management Committee today, unanimously agreed to continue with the Swanson Structure Plan process, in a move described as offering a way forward for increased protection for the Waitakere Ranges.
Committee chair, Councillor Penny Hulse, says that allowing the Structure Plan process to proceed, may open the way to mediation between those opposing the Structure Plan and those supporting it.
This could also clear the way for re-uniting a divided community, to agree on the way to provide increased – and permanent – protection for the Ranges, she says.
The Structure Plan governs the amount of subdivision that is permitted in the area.
The Plan process was placed on hold late last year by the Council, after numerous appeals to the Environment Court.
“It was thought then, that it might be better to step back and create a vision covering the whole Waitakere ranges and foothills. Swanson could have fitted into that overall plan, rather than being considered in isolation,” Councillor Hulse says.
Since then an Environment Court decision has upheld the right of a local couple to subdivide their property.
“That meant we had to revisit the subject and I think the right outcome was reached, in this case,” says Councillor Hulse.
“The Structure Plan process doesn’t mean automatic subdivision. Indeed, many of the landowners have been very clear they don’t want to subdivide. Nor does the Environment Court have to permit subdivision. However, the process does give people equal rights to support or oppose development, in an objective forum, either in mediation or - if necessary – in court,” she says.
Councillor Hulse says that while some environmentalists might be disappointed by the decision, it had the potential to unite the community in the common goal of protecting the Waitakere Ranges.
“The fact is that virtually all of these people are united on the need to get really good protection for the Ranges and foothills, permanently. The main disputes were over what might be possible in relatively small areas like Swanson.
“Environmentalists feared any subdivision might be the thin edge of the wedge but landowners themselves are talking about the need for prohibited activities in the area, which is exactly what the environmentalists want.
“So, when we get down to the detail, I think we’ll find the areas for dispute are very small and the areas of common agreement are very large,” she says.