Community Move To Save The Maitai
A petition asking Nelson City Council not to rezone rural land in the Maitai Valley has gathered over 1000 signatures in just four days. A community meeting on 3 July attracted 60 people to discuss their concerns about a proposed housing development containing upwards of 500 houses planned for an area known as Kaka Valley, on land currently protected by rural zoning in the area behind Dennes Hole in the Maitai Valley. Developers bought the rural-zoned land and will be asking Council to rezone it residential.
After the meeting, Maitai Valley resident Tony Haddon organised the petition, which he says will be presented to Nelson City Council in the next few weeks or so.
Mr Haddon said “We’re calling Nelsonians to acknowledge we have a problem with urban sprawl, and they’re responding.”
People from many parts of Nelson are concerned that the developers could request a private plan change from Council, and that Council would make a decision without consulting the community. Haddon said that Councillors had circulated a statement, but it did not clarify how the community could have a say about the zoning if the developers (Maitahi Development Co) ask for a private plan change.
“The applicant stated six months ago they intended to apply for a private plan change. But if they ask for that, how does the community have input? And what was the point of the council seeking our thoughts on future housing development in 2019, only to disregard them now?” said Haddon.
Nelsonians had already expressed their preference for revitalisation of their CBD and infill housing as the primary development phase to add in new housing stock. Haddon said the community wanted Nelson City Council to stand by its statement (from a page on their website updated 12/05/2016) which said: “In response to submissions the Council has decided not to pursue residential rezoning in the Maitai Valley and Brook areas.”
Signs protesting the development have popped up in the Maitai Valley and along Nile Street. The online community has also been active, with discussions about the likely impacts of the proposed development on several Nelson City Councillors’ facebook pages, as well as in a Facebook group called Save the Maitai.
Common concerns amongst the public included the major impacts on the rural amenity of the valley which is highly valued as a green space close to the CBD and accessible by all, change to the character of the valley with built infrastructure such as street-lighting, curb and channel, impacts on the health of the river, a significant increase in traffic movement in the valley and along Nile Street (passing Central School as well as upper Collingwood St, Milton Street, and Bridge St East), ongoing noise, concerns about which schools would accommodate the increase in population, increased numbers of people using the river track, light pollution, so on. Many also had concerns about the levels of noise, dust and disruption during the construction phase.
The online petition was started on 13 July and hard-copies can be found at petition stations around the city. Mr Haddon said the community has also created a Save the Maitai Givealittle page to cover expenses.