District plan review near public phase

Gary Kircher. Photo: ODT files
Gary Kircher. Photo: ODT files
After years of behind-the-scenes work, the Waitaki District Council’s district plan review is nearing its public engagement phase.

Tomorrow,  a rare meeting of the district plan review committee will consider how community engagement and communication will take place. It could deal with issues including infill urban development and protecting areas such as the Mackenzie Basin. Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said the need for an updated plan was becoming more evident "as we see what’s happening when we get growth pressure".

"If you don’t keep your plan up-to-date, you end up perhaps running out of land for residential subdivision or, in our case, we’ve got quite a lot of rural residential subdivision going on, which has got a 1ha minimum size.

"So we see a lot of productive land get turned into 1ha blocks. You get things around commercial and industrial lands and what happens there.

"We’ve got parts of Oamaru ... we’ve got areas off Humber St where residential properties are being bought up and we’ve had this expansion of commercial-slash-industrial going into residential areas, just because of the pressures of suitably zoned land.

"We’re no longer getting developments of quarter-acre sections everywhere — they tend to be smaller. And we’ve got a lot of opportunities for infilling in some of our urban areas ... whether that’s Oamaru, Palmerston, Kurow, Otematata, there’s lots of opportunities. And that’s a good use of land and resources.

"But equally, there’s greenfield developments and that’s where, particularly the rural residential areas, some people want a hectare, a lot of people don’t, but they end up buying and building on them."

The committee will consider whether to recommend adopting a relatively new "streamline" approach for sites of geological importance, which would create cost and time savings for the council, but hand the final decision-making to the Ministry for the Environment.

It will also discuss the engagement process for the entire plan and when the various stages of the engagement, before its adoption, will take place. A working timetable for the draft plan review process shows engagement with some of those concerned, including landowners affected by a recently compiled list of nominated heritage sites, will begin this month.

hamish.maclean@odt.co.nz

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