Claims the Dunedin City Council had a ''vested interest''
in granting consent for a new caravan park in Leith Valley will
be tested by the Environment Court.
One of the neighbours opposed to the new facility, Woodhaugh
St resident Rhonda Taylor, confirmed this week she had lodged
an Environment Court appeal on the decision.
Her move came after the council's hearings committee granted
consent earlier this month for the caravan park at at 51, 55
and 57 Woodhaugh St, Leith Valley.
The park would be owned and operated by the New Zealand Motor
Caravan Association and cater for some of the association's
48,000 members, with a dumping station on site.
It would also require the realignment of the nearby
intersection of Woodhaugh and Malvern Sts, at the
association's expense, to ensure caravans up to 13m long
could negotiate the corner.
However, court documents released to the Otago Daily Times
this week showed Mrs Taylor and husband Mitch wanted council
procedures behind the decision to be scrutinised.
She had claimed during the consent hearing the council had a
''vested interest'' in granting consent for the association's
That was because the council owned the land and had a
conditional deal to sell it to the association, on the
condition consent for the association's caravan park was
granted, she said at the time.
Her appeal came despite assurances of impartiality by
independent commissioner Allan Cubitt, who replaced chairman
Cr Colin Weatherall, and committee members Crs Andrew Noone
and Teresa Stevenson during the hearing.
Mrs Taylor, in her appeal notice to the court, said the
council had ''not followed the correct procedure'' and
exerted ''too great an influence ... throughout this
''Since the DCC was the vendor of the site, we believe no
councillors nor employees of, or at, the DCC should have
played an influential part [in] the decision-making
Submitters had not received prior notification of aspects of
the proposal, including the realignment of the intersection,
as required, she said.
The decision also lacked detail in places, including the
exact location of the site entrance, how many campers could
remain on site and for how long, she claimed.
She asked the court to review the decision, including whether
''improper procedure'' by the council needed to be corrected.
The caravan park plans had prompted concerns from other
neighbours, but a decision by council staff to opt for
limited notification meant only seven submissions were
Other neighbours were excluded from the process, including
Leith Valley Touring Park owners Terry and Lyn McLaren, whose
business is located just 30m away and who have a home
overlooking the new park.
Council city property staff referred questions this week to
council resource consents manager Alan Worthington, who could
not comment in detail while an appeal process was under way.
However, he remained confident the process had been handled
correctly, pointing to the appointment of Mr Cubitt as an
independent commissioner to ensure impartiality.
There was no timetable to resolve the appeal, but the next
step could be informal or formal mediation talks between the
parties, he said.
''We are open to the idea of mediation, so someone will be
talking to her in the future.''
The written decision, signed by Mr Cubitt, said the committee
was satisfied ''suitable conditions'' would minimise
disruption to the area's character, while the realignment of
the intersection would solve road safety issues.
Mr Cubitt had told Mrs Taylor during the hearing her claims
of vested interests were ''precisely why I am here''.
''I am here to ensure that there is impartiality.''