Doubts aired on legality of Dunedin developments

Photo: ODT files
Photo: ODT files
Doubts have been flagged about the legality of some new housing developments in Dunedin that allocate practically no space to allowing surface water to be absorbed in the ground.

The issue was raised at a future development strategy hearing in the city yesterday, after a submitter showed photographs of a property featuring AstroTurf, rather than lawn, and a concreted area for car parking.

Hearing panel member Kate Wilson said this begged questions about the effectiveness of existing rules and whether there were issues with developers pursuing hard surfacing beyond what was allowed in the district plan.

The matter is not central to the hearing, but such development appears to be a strange fit with a city vulnerable to effects of climate change and where managing stormwater looms as a key challenge.

Another panel member, city councillor Jim O’Malley, followed this up.

"It’s been an observation around the town that there seems to be a lot of new developments that are almost 100% hard surfacing and do not appear to be complying with the permeable surface requirements," he said.

Council officials were asked to look into whether the images were representative of compliant development.

The future development strategy for Dunedin is being produced jointly by the Dunedin City Council and Otago Regional Council.

A public hearing about the draft plan started yesterday. It is being chaired by commissioner Rob van Voorthuysen.

The first submission came from Graeme Franklyn, who was worried about potential housing intensification in an area described as Andersons Bay and Moana Cres.

It was labelled Area 11 in the documentation and council planners have recommended it be taken out of the draft strategy’s list of areas suitable for future residential intensification.

Jim O’Malley
Jim O’Malley
Mr Franklyn was also worried about threats to green space, and his video presentation included a picture of a development where there was "not a trace of green".

Cr O’Malley said the issue had cropped up repeatedly in the past 18 months and it was suspected many recent residential developments were non-compliant.

Other issues covered at the hearing yesterday included preserving built heritage and the importance of telecommunications technology being integrated into development appropriately.

The panel was told such technology was essential to a well-functioning city but the role of additional infrastructure was commonly downplayed in future development strategies.

Graeme McCarrison — representing Spark, Chorus, One NZ, Connexa and FortySouth — said people complained regularly about connectivity and one issue was developers "not taking the time to talk to us early on".

More cellular antennas were needed in higher populated areas.

The number of cell sites in New Zealand would probably increase by a third in the next five years, Mr McCarrison said.

Standards for 6G technology were under development and it could hit the ground about 2030, he said.

Southern Heritage Trust chairwoman Jo Galer said she was worried about intensification resulting in heritage being lost, as rules allowed houses that contributed character to the city to be picked off by developers, "like sitting ducks".

She supported a recommendation to add a strategic direction about heritage to the plan.