‘Getting nowhere’ over development complaints

Meadowstone resident David Evans in front of a two-storey unit being built in the Roys Bay Estate...
Meadowstone resident David Evans in front of a two-storey unit being built in the Roys Bay Estate in Mt Aspiring Rd. The original plans had an agreed height restriction of one storey. PHOTO: KERRIE WATERWORTH
The Queenstown Lakes District Council’s planning department has been accused of allowing narrow commercial interests to trump the rights of residents living and working in the Wanaka community.

Meadowstone resident David Evans made the accusation in the public forum of the full council meeting held in Wanaka last week because he "was getting nowhere" with the planning department.

In 2012 Mr Evans was one of the participants involved in a two-day Environment Court mediation process over an application by Stoney Creek Village Ltd to build 97 serviced apartments for a retirement village at the corner of Kelliher Dr, Meadowstone Dr and Mt Aspiring Rd.

He said the mediated agreement included plans for a 73-unit retirement village, which included restrictions on height and type of buildings and the use of specific high-quality building materials.

Since then Stoney Creek Village has become known as Roy’s Bay Estate (RBE) and has applied for and been granted variations to the original resource consents on a non-publicly notified basis.

Mr Evans said directly affected neighbours contacted the council planning department last November over the three buildings under construction at that time that were non-compliant as they were two-storey rather than single-storey buildings.

Mr Evans said council planners retrospectively and in a non-notified process varied the consent to allow two-storeyed buildings in place of single-level units.

"I wrote to the planning department and asked ‘why were you doing this retrospectively?’ and the answer was ‘because we can’."

Mr Evans said he now feared the developers had no intention of building a retirement village on the site.

"I have seen their advertisement in the autumn edition of Building Dreams magazine, where they say people of any age can buy these units."

Mr Evans said he believed there was now an entirely new set of plans for the development.

"I asked the council months ago what happened to the plans we signed off on and I have never had a response."

Mr Evans said if the council had any doubts about "where this outfit is headed" it should go back to the Environment Court.

"We know we have lost this battle ... It is all done by stealth."

The Otago Daily Times emailed Roys Bay Estate director Catherine Hannon on Wednesday asking her to confirm whether a retirement village would be developed on the site but she did not respond.

The ODT also approached the council’s communications department for a response to the comments made by Mr Evans and received the following response from Jack Barlow.

“Since the Environment Court originally granted consent for the retirement village in 2012, the site has been rezoned lower-density residential zone under the proposed district plan.

"The new zone rules for the site have been treated as operative since 2018.

“The consent holder has applied to vary the application, and the variation complies with the new zone standards."

The Resource Management Act required the council to have regard to the new zoning when considering who might be affected by a variation, including those who submitted on the original application.

In regard to the new zone rules in this case, the effects were considered to be less than minor on any persons, so the variation was approved, Mr Barlow said.

Comments

Pretty typical outcome these days, the developers know how to play the game. Get consent for a lesser version of you intended project, then start applying for small incremental variations to the original consent. Effects less than minor.... effects less than minor .... etc etc then oh what a surprise the developer ends up with his original version and the council justifies the result, all non notified! Sadly the RMA does not consider the cumulative effect to the consent of the multiple small deviations. Developer scores a ten while effected rate payer a zero!

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