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Plans for the first of two proposed subdivisions in Outram should be rejected because of the project's effect on neighbours and concerns the site might be contaminated, a Dunedin City Council report says.
Two Note Ltd has applied to the council for a private plan change whereby 7.7ha of rural land in Formby St, Outram, would be rezoned to allow 28 homes to be built.
The plan-change request was the first of two for subdivisions in the town due to be considered by the council, as Balmoral Developments (Outram) Ltd and an adjoining landowner also wanted to rezone 6.7ha of rural land for a further 24 homes.
Two Note Ltd's request will be considered by the council's hearings committee over two days beginning today.
A report by council planner Darryl Sycamore, to be considered at the hearing, recommended the company's request be declined because of concerns the proposal would adversely affect neighbours, result in the loss of high-class soils, and create problems with stormwater runoff.
It would also put more pressure on existing water infrastructure in the town, making existing supplies "inadequate" for household or firefighting purposes, the report said.
There was also concern the land might be contaminated, because of the presence of an old capped landfill "somewhere on the site", and the site's history as a market garden.
Mr Sycamore's report said the landfill was believed to have operated during the 1960s and 1970s, when the use of now-prohibited agrichemicals was widespread, but its extent, and the types of materials buried on site, were "largely unknown".
Further investigation would be needed to allow more accurate planning, as the discovery of high levels of contamination after consent was granted could make regulation "awkward", the report said.
It was possible the investigation could show the site required costly rehabilitation or management, or it could be rendered permanently unsuitable for residential use, the report said.
The movement of soil around the site during construction of the subdivision, the ability of new residents to grow food, and the effects on groundwater that could arise from disturbing contaminants, all needed to be considered.
Concerns from some submitters the character of Outram would be lost if the development proceeded were not supported by the report.
The extra homes, if approved, would increase the town's size by 10%, and "will not notably detract from the ambiance or character of the township".
However, it was clear the new homes would mean a "significant loss of amenity" for neighbours to the site who enjoyed rural views.
The subdivision would also result in the loss of high-class Pomahaka soil, which "undoubtedly represents the city's finest land for primary production".
"Given the finite nature of the soils, it is important to consider and protect those soils for the needs of current and future generations."
Council staff also had "significant concerns" the site would be susceptible to flooding, which had not been addressed.
There were also concerns increased stormwater runoff from the extra housing could see the council in breach of its Otago Regional Council stormwater discharge consent.
The consent's conditions required stormwater discharges to be prevented from flooding any other person's property, and the report warned the subdivision "may put the stormwater discharge consent at risk of non-compliance".
The extra houses would also place more pressure on Outram's water treatment plant, further reducing "only marginally adequate" water supplies for household and firefighting purposes, and requiring pipes and pumps to be upgraded.
In response, Two Note had raised the possibility of a special consultative procedure to discuss an upgrade and a financial contribution for the work, but council staff said Two Note would be expected to meet all costs.
The council's hearings committee is Cr Colin Weatherall, as chairman, and Crs Paul Hudson, Andrew Noone and Kate Wilson.
Balmoral Developments (Outram) Ltd's separate plan-change request is pencilled in for a two-day hearing on February 13-14 next year.