Otago Regional Council staff and a solicitor acting for
private developers have locked horns over whether a proposed
subdivision in Outram should proceed.
The disagreements came as a Dunedin City Council hearings
committee listened to a second day of arguments for and
against the subdivision proposed by Balmoral Developments
The company, together with an adjoining landowner, wants to
build 24 homes on 6.7ha of rural land beside State Highway
87, Holyhead Rd and Mountfort St.
Balmoral has applied to the council for a plan change that
would amend the district plan and result in the rural land
being rezoned for residential use.
The Otago Regional Council opposed the plan change, arguing
in a written submission the site was unsuitable because of
the risk of liquefaction and settlement in an earthquake.
Speaking yesterday, ORC resource planner liaison officer
Sarah Valk told the hearing vehicle access from the site to
the state highway was also ''potentially unsafe''.
Alterations would be needed to improve sight distances for
motorists leaving the subdivision and turning on to the state
highway, making it ''inappropriate'', she said.
She was also concerned the plan change would expose people
and property to risks from natural hazards, and create a
precedent for development on other parts of the Taieri Plains
with similar natural hazards.
ORC engineering manager Ramon Blair also said claims
groundwater at the site would be 5m below ground - providing
a buffer zone that reduced the risk of liquefaction - might
also be ''overly optimistic''.
The groundwater level was likely to be closer to the surface,
but limited investigation of the site meant knowledge of it
was ''abysmal, really'', he said.
Asked by committee member Cr Andrew Noone if enough was known
for a decision to be made, Mr Blair said there ''probably
Engineering solutions were available that could address the
potential liquefaction problems, but without knowing more,
solutions in one area risked creating problems elsewhere, he
However, Balmoral's solicitor, Phil Page, took issue with
evidence about transportation effects, questioning why the
ORC was attempting to ''second guess'' the New Zealand
Transport Agency, which did not oppose Balmoral's plans.
''That's just mind-blowing, frankly,'' he said.
''Why the ORC wants to express a view on that is completely
beyond me, and you should set that [evidence] aside.''
The ORC had accepted stormwater from the subdivision could be
discharged into the nearby Taieri River - over the existing
floodbank - resolving one key issue for the developers, he
However, evidence about exposing people and homes to
additional risk if the site was developed was some of the
vaguest evidence he had heard, Mr Page said.
''I don't think that evidence was helpful to you at all,'' he
Earlier, council consultant planner Emma Christmas - who
recommended consent be declined - said she was satisfied
adverse affects from the plan change could be mitigated.
Engineering solutions could also address any threats from
natural hazards, although more discussion was needed on
geotechnical issues, she believed.
That left the loss of high-class soils at the former market
garden site to deal with, as there was ''no dispute'' some
would be lost if the subdivision proceeded, she said.
That was contrary to the council's district plan, which
strove to protect high-class soils, meaning the committee
would have to consider how to balance the competing land
uses, she said.
The committee would also have to decide what weight to give
to the council's new spatial plan, which sought to encourage
infill development over urban sprawl outside
residential-zoned areas, she noted.
Mr Page believed the key issue remaining was whether the
committee needed more geotechnical information from Balmoral
before making a decision, or whether the work could wait
until a future resource consent hearing.
Balmoral's plan change request was the second to be
considered by the committee, after Two Note Ltd sought to
rezone 7.7ha of rural land on Formby St for 28 houses.
Committee chairman Cr Colin Weatherall adjourned the hearing
yesterday and could not say when a decision would be