Dunedin city planners have recommended councillors reject an application to subdivide a rural Middlemarch property with a bed and breakfast business on it, because it would create a small-site commercial-residential activity which would not comply with the rural zoning of the area.
Star Holdings Ltd has applied to the Dunedin City Council to subdivide a block at 38 Reefs Rd into two lots.
One 4ha lot would contain the former Strathmore Station homestead, now known as the Pukerangi Country Retreat, garden and a sleepout, and the capacity of existing accommodation in the homestead would be increased to 13 paying customers. The current owners would retain the site and operation. The other lot would be subsumed back into the wider farm.
The current site already has resource consent for a bed and breakfast business for up to eight guests, with the condition the consent holder or a manager is resident on site.
The new application seeks to allow for the accommodation to be self-contained, meaning no resident manager, and the sleepout would be used as a bunk room.
Having the farm manager in residence proved impractical for farm management, the application says.
Planner Howard Alchin noted the rural zoning, the subdivision would create an undersized site, and it was in the Strath Taieri Outstanding Landscape area, so the idea was non-complying with the District Plan: "It is my opinion that allowing the creation of a site of this size results in the unnecessary fragmentation of land in a sensitive location."
The previous consent requiring the manager to live on the site tied the operation closely to the farm operation and there was adequate land to make a complying site, to avoid fragmentation and an island of development completely at odds with its immediate environment and the intention of the District Plan.
If a 4ha site was created, it could be sold, which could increase residential density in the area, thereby decreasing its rural amenity.
"We are being asked to consider that the management of a full breakfast for guests and the expanded operation are apparently easier to manage and service remotely from another dwelling 2km from the homestead site. In the absence of a more detailed explanation ... I can only conclude that the economic advantage of this proposal to the owners is simply the financial gain that creating the new 4ha site may yield."
The council's landscape architect had no significant concerns about potential adverse landscape effects.
Mr Alchin said he believed the adverse effects of the proposal could be largely avoided if it was changed to create a 15ha site, even if made up of a 4ha and an 11ha lot, which could be used for farming activities, in the meantime.