Show farm consent inching forwards

A decision on resource consent for a show farm designed to attract ''high end'' Chinese tourists had taken longer than expected, but would ''be out within a week or two'', committee chairwoman Kate Wilson said yesterday.

Leonard Cheng appeared before the Dunedin City Council's resource consent committee yesterday for the second time since January, when he made the application to develop tourist accommodation and a show farm at 311 Wakari Rd.

Mr Cheng said he had expected the resource consent process to be faster.

''I really want to get the ball started rolling.''

Development would go through three stages over a consent period of 10 years.

Stage one would be developing a six-guest room accommodation that would eventually be expanded into 36 guest rooms.

Show farm development would start directly after the initial accommodation was completed, and would continue over the 10-year consent period.

The committee was reconvened after committee members - Crs Wilson, Jinty MacTavish and Andrew Noone - made a site visit and realised earthworks had occurred that had not been included in the initial consent application.

The second meeting was held because of committee concerns over ''whether you could achieve what had been applied for ... in light of what the site looks like today'', Cr Noone said.

Mr Cheng's planning consultant, Don Anderson, said modification might be necessary at one of the earthworks sites, ''if [the earthworks] are to be retained - which I don't think they will be''.

''Nothing material has changed since the adjourned hearing,'' he said.

At the initial committee meeting in January, council staff opposed connecting the rurally-zoned property to city wastewater pipes.

''At the moment, council policy doesn't allow you to connect, but the process is that we can apply for an exemption to that policy,'' Mr Anderson said.

The other possibility would be to build an effluent treatment and dispersal system on-site, which would require consent from the Otago Regional Council.

At yesterday's meeting, Mr Cheng's team said establishing an on-site sewerage system would be possible, if necessary - but they hoped it would not be.

''Our preference is to connect to the public system,'' Mr Anderson said.

''Who wants to have on-site sewage at a venue for international visitors?''

His view was that the proposal ''almost could have been consented by [DCC] staff in December of last year'', without going before the resource consent committee.

He said it had come before the committee solely because of the wording of two submissions made on the proposal.

''If the two submitters had written their submissions slightly differently, I am of the view ... that [processing planner] Lianne Darby could have granted consent without coming to this committee.''

Ms Darby concurred on that point at the meeting yesterday, and upheld her initial recommendation that consent be granted.

Mr Cheng said his architect and development manager were ''on hold'', waiting for the decision.

He hoped to start work on the property as soon as he received resource consent and to accept the first guests as soon as possible afterwards.

''If not by this Christmas, maybe sometime - just before the end of next summer.''

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