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TCDC bends over backwards for developer

BLACKJACK PROTECTION SOCIETY INCORPORATED

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

TCDC bends over backwards for developer

August 12, 2008

The Thames-Coromandel District Council has made a deal with developers to remove its own planning controls from a subdivision.

This comes as the council pushes ahead with a controversial closed planning hearing for the development on Friday.

In doing so, TCDC has pre-empted the outcome of unresolved High Court action by the Blackjack Protection Society challenging TCDC’s non- notification of the development.

Developers Murray and Sue Edens have applied to build a massive, 79-lot subdivision on the edge of the sand dunes at Skippers Rd in Opito Bay, on the eastern Coromandel.

The development is intense, large and will have a drastic effect on the environment of the bay. It is opposed by community groups and the Department of Conservation because it is next to the breeding grounds of the endangered New Zealand dotterel.

More importantly, the proposal does not follow a 1998 structure plan that governs the land and includes a proposed recreation area — the sole benefit to the community.

The council decided two years ago that the size of the reserve would be decided when the land was subdivided — which would require notification.

The Edens applied to remove the structure plan two years ago, but withdrew their High Court appeal last year.

A report from TCDC’s planner now reveals that the council agreed to delete the plan for them.

TCDC now claims the structure plan was inserted in error.

“It seems beyond belief that they can be on their own record as to the importance of the structure plan and now suggest it was all a mistake,” says Blackjack chairman Pat O’Brien.

“We were floored that the council pushed ahead with the hearing,” he said. “But we’re even more shocked now. The council appears to be doing everything it can for the developers and changing the rules to suit.

“The hearing is fundamentally flawed. It's exclusionary, it's wrong in law and there are issues surrounding it that are far from resolved. The council is doing things backwards."

“The subdivision is already patently unsustainable and the council plans to make it more so.”

The Environmental Defence Society is assisting Blackjack with its court action.

“We are concerned that the council appears to be doing everything possible to assist the applicant, even going so far as to change its plan to ease the proposal through the consent process,” said EDS Chairman Gary Taylor.

“We think the council should be looking to achieve a better environmental outcome from a much lower density development but it seems to have its sights set on something that will be very sub-optimal. That is disappointing,” Mr Taylor concluded.

Blackjack filed proceedings to challenge the non-notification of the application in March, but the case has yet to be heard.

Both EDS and Blackjack have urged the council to delay the hearing until the outcome of the High Court challenge is decided, but TCDC has ignored this.


ENDS

ABOUT THE BLACKJACK PROTECTION SOCIETY

The Blackjack Protection Society includes individuals and families with long- held links to the Kuaotunu Peninsula. It is named after the narrow, winding gravel road that traverses the hills of the area. The society is worried about the rate, pace and style of development at Opito and the other bays, and has formed to advocate for sustainable development.

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