Draft plan’s launch muddled by errors

Maps marred by technical glitches have put a dampener on the launch of the new draft combined district plan for the West Coast.

The admission of errors in the mapping comes after some West Coast ratepayers received letters advising them of new rules coming into immediate legal effect, including landowners who were wrongly advised their land was designated as a site of significance to Maori in the draft plan.

Te Tai o Poutini plan is a combined plan to replace individual plans for the Buller, Grey and Westland districts. The draft is out for consultation, and submissions close September 30.

Mapping errors have so far been identified at Gladstone and Kumara, neither of which contain sites of significance to Poutini Ngai Tahu.

Plan committee chairman Rex Williams said problems started with the digital mapping of some sites in the plan, especially those close to bodies of water.

The digital map had "misaligned with the physical maps", and authorities would contact the affected landowners in the coming weeks to explain the problem and fix it, he said.

"We are also aware that there have been some problems accessing the plan online, either due to an incorrect web address or slow loading speed," he said.

"These issues are not ideal. I want to thank the community for their interest in the proposed plan, as well as their patience as we work through these issues."

Project manager Jo Armstrong said "ironing out" the glitches needed to be done quickly.

As well as there being mapping problems with some Kumara properties near the Taramakau River, other properties bordering the Paroa-Saltwater lagoon were incorrectly mapped.

Staff were now "rejigging" the maps, and corrected letters of advice would be sent out to all affected landowners, she said.

In the original letters, ratepayers were invited to search the "e-plan" and the online maps for more insight.

Kumara property owners Russell and Mandy Spaan and Leanne and Ian Stewart were among those who tried to look online for more detail about their properties, which they were advised had been identified as sites of significance to Maori.

However, the web address in the letter was incorrect.

Efforts were being made yesterday to boost the speed for website traffic, given unprecedented interest in the new plan.

Some property owners had also been in contact to point out that pieces of property identified as theirs on maps were actually "in the river", Ms Armstrong said.

"It’s just the [map] edges are very blurry around the edges of waterways."

While a large amount of central Greymouth had been identified as of significance to Maori, that did not mean any new restrictions, she said.

Historic Mawhera pa and original Maori reserve boundaries had been noted simply as a historical acknowledgement for planning purposes. Just two rules applied as a direct result: prohibition of landfills and disposal of sewage to land.

By Brendon McMahon

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