Objections to Petone West changes 'unprecedented'

SIMON EDWARDS
Last updated 10:39 11/12/2012

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There have been an unprecedented number of submissions on proposed planning-rule changes for the western end of Petone.

Hutt City Council received 248 submissions on District Plan Change 29 earlier this year.

Environmental policy division manager Bronwyn Little compared this to the 18 submissions when the council considered changes to rules for the Lower Hutt central business district.

For the Petone proposals, people had until November 27 to put in extra viewpoints commenting on the submissions already lodged. Ms Little said a further 25 submissions came in.

"We hardly ever get further submissions [commenting on the first round]," she said.

Ms Little, who has been with the council's planning section for more than a decade, said there had never been a District Plan Change in the city that had generated so much interest.

As well as views from scores of residents, submissions - most opposing aspects of what is proposed - have come in from the likes of GNS Science, the NZ Historic Places Trust, the regional council, the NZ Transport Authority and Kiwirail.

Petone Planning Action Group presented a petition to Mayor Ray Wallace calling for the proposed plan change to be re- investigated and then re- advertised.

For the area bounded by Hutt Rd, The Esplanade, Victoria St, Campbell Tce and Petone Ave, Proposed Plan Change 29 allows for: retail developments of any size under 10,000sqm.

lifting the maximum height of office and apartment buildings from 12m to 30m

permits all forms of residential development, including apartment buildings, except on the ground floor of Jackson St.

Consultants estimated the plan changes could allow developments generating an extra $294 million in GDP in Petone in the next 20 years, with another $186m in spin-off effects for the wider economy.

Some 722 extra jobs could be generated by 2032. (Note: Several submitters dispute these figures.)

But the council was also warned that with new retail developments built in Petone West, up to 60 of the existing 161 specialty stores on Jackson St could close or relocate.

Plan Change 25, which dwells on creating a tertiary education precinct around WelTec, with car parking ramifications in particular, also drew a huge response - 164 submissions.

A hearing on this matter is set down for February next year.

Ms Little said a date has yet to be set for hearings on the Petone West issues, but there is so much to consider pre-hearing meetings will probably be needed.

The two Petone plan changes have been so complicated, and soaked up so much of officers' time, that rule changes relating to heritage provisions in the city have had to be put on the back burner.

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