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Public access to the banks of part of Lindsay Creek in north Dunedin could be lost if a housing development goes ahead without a reserve being created, Dunedin City Council staff are cautioning.
The Watts Road Property Trust is hoping to subdivide land at 35 and 37 Watts Rd, as well as parts of 43 Watts Rd and 309 North Rd, to build 14 new homes in the area.
The subdivision itself was seen as relatively uncontentious and was proceeding without public notification or a hearing, council senior planner Phil Marshall said yesterday.
Almost all of it would be on residential-zoned land at 35 and 37 Watts Rd, although small parts of 43 Watts Rd and 309 North Rd would also be included to increase the size of the lots to between 500sq m and 780sq m.
That meant about 100sq m of rural-zoned land would be included, providing the only "wrinkle" in the subdivision application, he said.
However, a planner’s report noted the 309 North Rd site was also the site of the former Palmers Quarry and part of Lindsay Creek, which runs through the area.
And, in including part of 309 North Rd in the wider development plan, it effectively meant the whole property was considered part of the subdivision, the report said.
That also triggered the requirement for a 20m-wide esplanade reserve along each side of Lindsay Creek to be taken by the Dunedin City Council at the time of the subdivision.
An agent for the developer has asked the council to deal with the esplanade requirement at a later date, arguing an easement now would cause "unnecessary complications" for the development.
However, council parks and recreation staff have expressed concern, saying any decision to leave the reserve until a later stage could create problems if the wider development plan changed in future.
If, instead of further subdivisions, the remainder of the site was used for another form of development — such as a retirement home or community housing — the "opportunity to secure this reserve land for future generations and the creek’s biodiversity values may be lost".
The protection of stream margins helped ensure continued public access, and the area also provided habitat for native aquatic species "including the banded and giant kokopu, shortfin and longfin eel and koura as well as native bird species".
It was also an important spawning habitat for trout and salmon, the report noted.
Instead of leaving the issue until later, council parks and recreation staff suggested the reserve should be taken as schedule, with a right-of-way easement used to provide access to the development.
The bid to have the esplanade reserve requirement waived would be considered at a meeting of the council’s hearings committee on Tuesday.