Document disrupts plan to change hearing

The hearing into a controversial plan change that would allow a 900-lot residential development on the outskirts of Cromwell had to be adjourned yesterday when it was claimed "a potentially significant document" had been introduced as new evidence.

On the fourth day of the commissioners hearing into plan change 13, barrister Warwick Goldsmith objected to Highland Motorsports Park witness and planning expert David Mead referring to the recently released Central Otago District Council's spatial plan in his evidence.

Acting for the proponent, Winton Group developer Chris Meehan, Mr Goldsmith said: "We have all prepared for this hearing on the basis of the community master plan process ... the proponent has been faced with a potentially new document after it has closed its case, it is simply not appropriate."

CODC counsel Jan Caunter said the document was made public nearly a week ago and "this hearing would be significantly prejudiced" if the commissioners did not have it before them.

After an adjournment of nearly an hour for commissioners Gary Rae (chairman), Gavin Lister and David McMahon to find a way through the impasse, they presented the legal representatives with three options - either to rule the document out, to keep the document in and allow discussion on both the process and the implications, or to seek independent advice on which they would make a decision.

Despite more than an hour of discussion between all parties, no consensus was reached, leaving the commissioners to make a decision overnight and present their ruling this morning.

Opponents to the plan change 13 began their submissions on Wednesday and continued yesterday.

In her evidence, Highland Motorsports Park chief operating officer Josie Spillane said "we have a strong social licence to operate and I am very concerned the River Terraces development will erode that goodwill or even worse, create a divide in the community".

She said the proposal by the developer to offer a "no complaints" covenant was viewed with scepticism by Highlands Motorsports Park.

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