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''Overstated'' and ''emotional'' criticisms from neighbours of a Wanaka plan change could not be given the same credibility as professional opinion, lawyer Warwick Goldsmith says.
Mr Goldsmith was acting yesterday for requester Michaela Ward Meehan in a public hearing in Wanaka for private Plan Change 45: Northlake Special Zone (PC45), which proposes a 1600-lot, mixed-density residential subdivision between Aubrey Rd and the Clutha River.
In his right of reply yesterday afternoon, after five and a-half days of evidence for and against PC45, Mr Goldsmith said lawyers acting for opposing submitters had failed to provide sufficient analysis or evidence to support their argument, or used qualified planning consultants.
''Perhaps they couldn't find experts to support their views,'' Mr Goldsmith said, prompting Commissioner David Whitney to caution against speculation.
Mr Goldsmith said submissions from ''lay persons'' living near the plan change area were ''frequently overstated ... emotional and without criticising those submitters, they have other agendas ... they want large, low-density subdivision''.
Objections they had raised included views from Mt Iron being degraded by the development, despite two professional landscape architects having no particular concerns in that regard.
Mr Goldsmith urged the commissioners to be careful about the expectations of neighbours of the PC45 area, citing in particular Elisabeth Muir's view that nothing could mitigate the negative effects of PC45 on residents of Aubrey Rd, who had deliberately bought into a semi-rural environment.
''[Mrs Muir] can not come before you and say: 'I expect you to maintain my pastoral view'. That is not a reasonable expectation under the [Resource Management] Act,'' Mr Goldsmith said.
''She can expect to have her view taken into account and balanced against all the other considerations. The Resource Management Act puts community rights and public rights above private rights and that applies from both sides of the fence.''
He said the PC45 zone would take a generation to develop so any adverse effects - such as increasing traffic and changing outlooks - would be ''incremental'' rather than sudden.
The Queenstown Lakes district's 20-year planning horizon was unjustified and worked against holistic, big-picture planning, Mr Goldsmith said, before urging the commissioners to be forward-thinking in their decision.
''At least parts of this land are obviously suitable for development ... and perhaps of equal importance is what happens if you did say no?
"The rural general zone will remain and if anyone reasonably thinks the landowners are going to sit there for the next 20 years while the council decides what it wants to do with it then that is not a reasonable possibility.
''You need to make a decision now about what will happen to this land resource ... the land owners are entitled to an answer ... council could not sterilise this land, it would never stand.''
Commissioners Whitney and Lyal Cocks will now consider all the evidence presented before making a recommendation to the Queenstown Lakes District Council on whether PC45 should be approved.