Subdivision decision overturned by court

The Environment Court has overturned a Dunedin City Council consent decision, meaning a developer can go ahead with his subdivision on the lower slopes of Saddle Hill, at East Taieri.

Judge Jon Jackson released his decision on the Riccarton Rd East properties yesterday.

The appeal relates to a 2013 council hearings committee decision to decline consent for landowners planning to subdivide their properties.

Then-councillor Colin Weatherall said at the time the committee had concluded the proposals risked damaging the area's rural amenity - effectively creating a new rural-residential zone - and ''significantly'' undermining the district plan.

Calvin Fisher, a union official and director of Saddle Views Estate Ltd, and developer Kim Taylor, director of KJ Taylor Ltd, appealed a decision to decline consent.

Yesterday's decision on Mr Taylor's subdivision was the first to come, and Judge Jackson said a separate decision would be issued for Saddle Views Estate.

Mr Taylor declined to comment on the success of his appeal when contacted by the Otago Daily Times.

Judge Jackson said in his decision Mr Taylor should be granted consent to subdivide 16ha of land into three lots for housing.

The minimum size in a rural zone under the council's district plan was 15ha.

He noted district plan policies provided for activities based on productive use of rural land, and sought to sustain the productive capacity of rural zones.

But he questioned whether the proposal would create a planning precedent for future subdivision of the site or other rural land.

''We are not overly concerned about this: this largely hidden site is so unusual in its topography compared with the other areas above the Taieri Plains we consider it can readily be distinguished from other land facing the Taieri Plains.''

As well, a ''rural-residential type creep'' had already overtaken the site.

''This application is more of an infill situation than development of rural land of high rural and amenity value.''

The judgement said the council and Mr Taylor ''confer and, preferably, agree'' on appropriate conditions for land use.

Council resource consents manager Alan Worthington said the council would work to sort out issues with Mr Taylor such as fencing and ''normal subdivision stuff''.

david.loughrey@odt.co.nz

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