Housing development’s future uncertain

A proposed Ohoka housing development is being considered by the Environment Court. Image:...
A proposed Ohoka housing development is being considered by the Environment Court. Image: Supplied by Waimakariri District Council
The fate of a major housing development proposed in North Canterbury will not be known for several months as legal discussions drag on.

Rolleston Industrial Developments Ltd appealed against the Waimakariri District Council’s decision to decline its private plan change for an 850-home development at Ohoka, near Rangiora.

The Environment Court held a pre-hearing conference on April 22, with the Judge subsequently directing the parties to report to the court by July 31.

Ohoka residents have previously opposed the housing development amid fears it would ruin the character of the rural town.

However, the developers say the new subdivision will provide homes and an economic boost to the district.

The latest legal delay will allow for an update on the progress of the Waimakariri District Council’s District Plan Review.

Waimakariri Mayor Dan Gordon has previously expressed his frustration the council was required to consider such a large development while it was in the middle of a District Plan Review.

In July 2022, Mr Gordon called for a moratorium to private plan change requests while a council is reviewing its District Plan and raised the matter with then Environment Minister David Parker.

The council notified its draft District Plan in November 2021, before receiving the private plan change request.

Councillors voted unanimously to reject the proposed 850-home development on a 156 hectare site in November, following a recommendation from independent commissioners.

The site has not been identified as suitable for development in either the proposed District Plan or the Greater Christchurch Spatial Plan.

Previous reports prepared by the council had identified the site as unsuitable for rural residential housing, let alone a large urban development.

Six parties have been confirmed for the hearing, including Rolleston Industrial Developments Ltd, the Waimakariri District Council, the Oxford-Ohoka Community Board, the Ohoka Residents Association, the Mandeville Village Limited Incorporated and Environment Canterbury.

By David Hill, Local Democracy Reporter

■ LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air.