Review your policies, judge tells ORC

An Environment Court panel has suggested if the Otago Regional Council does not like its decision to allow the building of a house on flood-prone land at Karitane, the ORC should review its policies.

The suggestion was made recently in the final written decision on the Holt case by Environment Court Judge Jon Jackson and commissioners Alex Sutherland and Charles Manning.

The ORC was "not happy" with allowing Rowen and Brendan Holt to build a pole house 3.7m above sea level at Stornoway St, Karitane, after it had appealed the Dunedin City Council decision to grant consent.

The ORC was concerned about the precedent the decision would set and its impact on the council's plans to restrict development on flood-prone areas of the Taieri.

In the decision, the panel said given some of the comments reported, "we emphasise the role of the local authorities' policies in our decision".

"If the Otago Regional Council does not like the outcome, it should review its policies."

Regional council chairman Stephen Cairns said his council and the city council were looking at their policies but regional plan or district plan changes could take many years.

"These are issues that need more speed, haste, particularly in light of that decision."

The ORC would like to control any future development like the Holts' in coastal flood prone areas and "in particular on the Taieri", Mr Cairns said.

A workshop yesterday by the regional council discussed what other action - such as bylaws - was "within its ability" in the short term, but it was still keen to work with the city council on a district plan change, he said.

In the court's final decision, it approved conditions allowing the Holts to build, including that the consent holder could not sue the city council for negligence for issuing the consent and should not seek further flood protection from the regional council, and that a boat, sufficient to carry at least eight people, be within reach of the house in the event of sudden flooding.


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