The Dunedin City Council this week sent a clear message
to developers on the city's urban fringes who expect to be
connected to the city water supply because new sections are
close to existing water infrastructure, despite being out of
In a departure from its previously accommodating stance on
pleas from property owners wanting to be connected and citing
extraordinary circumstances, councillors at this week's full
council meeting rejected two applications for new out-of-zone
connections to the city water supply.
Other applications for out-of-zone water connections are also
in their sights, as they look set to review the bylaw
Cr Kate Wilson, chairwoman of the council's
infrastructure committee, indicated during a lengthy debate, a
willingness for the committee to consider a review of the 2011
water supply bylaw, with a view to rethinking the rules around
The debate followed a report from water and waste services
and planning staff warning that allowing more connections
could place unanticipated demands on water supply
infrastructure and lead to urban fringe development at odds
with the district plan and the spatial plan.
The issue of out-of-zone water connections has vexed council
water department staff for several years.
Properties in Dunedin can be connected to raw water
supply pipelines, distribution mains or the reticulated
The bylaw provides for reticulated water supply to properties
within designated areas, or, beyond those areas, to
properties with residential zoning.
In July 2011, the council adopted a process that allowed
elected members to consider supplying water to properties not
provided for in the bylaw, where dwellings were experiencing
Since then, councillors have granted all seven applications
they have heard.
Staff reported the two new applications before the council
were seeking connection for future new dwellings on
previously undeveloped lots with rural or rural-residential
zoning, without extraordinary circumstances, and developers
were expecting connection because they were close to existing
This was despite their subdivision consents being granted
with the expectation water supply would be from rain-fed tanks,
Staff were concerned many more such applications would be
made if these were granted.
Councillors debated at length what their position on
out-of-zone connections should be.
Cr Hilary Calvert wanted to know how real the issues were
with connecting these people to water. Water and waste
services manager Dr Laura McElhone said it was very difficult
to predict whether what seemed like a small problem now would
become a big problem in 10 years' time, but new connections
did place various unnecessary and undesirable constraints on
Cr Richard Thomson said it seemed sensible to allow
connections where existing water supply infrastructure was
already close by, but planner Paul Freeland said the problem
was once people had water, they expected provision of other
services such as rubbish collection and sewerage, ultimately
creating a new urban area.
Cr David-Benson Pope, the new chairman of the regulatory and
planning committee, was clear about his position.
''If we are really serious about having a compact city, we
have to stop well-intentioned, but suicidal, decisions about
Cr Wilson said the spatial plan had overtaken the bylaw and
councillors needed to be consistent in their approach as they
drafted a new district plan, which meant she would now be
harder on these applications. Cr Thomson said it seemed the
best way to deal with consistency in dealing with the issue
was to revisit the bylaw.
Councillors generally agreed and noted staff concerns in the
They then considered, and rejected, the applications for new
connections on two properties in Signal Hill Rd and five
properties at Sawyers Bay.
Crs Benson-Pope, Aaron Hawkins, Jinty MacTavish, Kate Wilson,
Neville Peat, Chris Staynes, John Bezett and Mayor Dave Cull
voted against the connections.