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Environment Court Decision on Orewa Released

Environment Court Decision on Orewa Released

Mayor Penny Webster says that a decision by the Environment Court to alter a Proposed Plan Change by Rodney District Council could lead to uncontrolled high rise development in the Orewa town centre and create uncertainty for local residents about how the town will develop.

The Council proposed changes to its District Plan rules for Orewa in 2007, as part of Variation 101. The Variation included proposed maximum heights for residential and commercial development in the town centre. The Council asked Independent Commissioners to hear submissions to the Variation and make a recommendation to the Council.

The Commissioners recommendation, which was accepted by the Council, limited development to a maximum of 12.5 metres for sites less than 1,800m2 in the town centre area. Very large sites could potentially build higher. Only sites that were greater than 5,000m2 could apply to develop buildings up to 30 metres in height.

Submitters to the Plan change who wanted changes to the rules in the town centre and in a Variable Height Zone south of the town centre appealed the decision on the Plan Change to the Environment Court.

The Court released its decision this week. In this ruling the Court removed the District Plan rules limiting taller buildings to large sites only (sites greater than 5,000m2). Instead, the court decided that the standard town centre zoning should allow for development up to 12.5 metres, with any development higher than this having restricted discretionary activity status.

“This decision could be very negative for the community,” says Mayor Penny Webster.

“We proposed that only a very small number of large sites in the town centre would be able to consider developing above 12.5 metres.”

“Removing the safeguards in the District Plan specifying that only large sites can consider developing taller buildings, and instead applying a restricted discretionary status to this activity means that anyone can apply for a resource consent for a high rise, even property owners with a small site.”

“Secondly, because the District Plan rules controlling high rise development have been removed by the Court, it will be more difficult for the new Auckland Council to find the necessary support within the District Plan to decline high rise applications.”
The decision has also upset Hibiscus Coast Councillor and Deputy Mayor John Kirikiri. "I am absolutely gobsmacked over the Environment Court's decision. The judge disagreed with the independent commissioners and the ten years of consultation with the community.”
"A restricted discretionary status means there is now no high rise limit in Orewa's CBD, which is irresponsible. This is more a Sunshine Coast rather than a Gold Coast decision with none of the prescriptive changes that promote good design," says Mr Kirikiri.

ENDS

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