Banks Peninsula landscape case not to be appealed
May 21, 2008
Banks Peninsula landscape case will not be appealed
Environment Canterbury chief executive Dr Bryan Jenkins has confirmed that the council will not appeal the recent Environment Court decision on landscape provisions of the Banks Peninsula District Plan, now part of Christchurch City.
Dr Jenkins said the discussions on Banks Peninsula landscape protection over many years had been productive and were not characterised by a them-and-us mentality. “The various parties - council staff and local councillors, Federated Farmers, community groups and land-owners were able to agree upon a number of issues through productive mediation leading up to the recent Environment Court case.
“ECan staff and council fully supported the district plan provisions which identified that farming operations, in particularly pastoral sheep farms, are an important part of Banks Peninsula’s regionally outstanding landscape,” said Dr Jenkins. “We acknowledge the time and effort spent by all parties to this case to resolve most of the landscape issues raised. But in the end mediation failed to get sign-up from all parties in some key areas and the Court case was necessary to achieve some useful protections for Banks Peninsula.
“The Environment Court decided that amending the rules relating to subdivision lot sizes was more efficient and effective than amending the areas classified as outstanding natural landscape or coastal natural character landscape areas. ECan welcomes that protection.
“Hence in areas classified Rural Amenity Areas, the Court amended the minimum discretionary activity subdivision size from four to ten hectares, recognising the high landscape values and threats from over-intensification/domestication.
“Subdivision into areas less than 10 hectares in size is now classified as a non-complying activity. Judge Jeff Smith accepted the ECan planning evidence relating to reflectivity and building clusters. Farmers can still create building sites of one hectare on these allotments as a discretionary activity where the remainder of the land is covenanted to protect its environmental values.”
Dr Jenkins noted that the Court confirmed that the City Council landscape study, which was undertaken after ECan requested it, was not inconsistent with ECan’s Regional Coastal Plan and the Regional Policy Statement. (ECan’s landscape advice was that the new district plan maps were inconsistent with these two planning documents.) But the Court noted that some areas outside of the appeals went beyond the Court’s scope hence it could not provide any jurisdiction for them. It has indicated that the City Council should undertake a further change to the District Plan to rectify those omissions.