New suburb decision hit by delay
Development of Palmerston North's proposed next suburb at Whakarongo has been delayed for nearly five months.
The public hearing on the rezoning of 54 hectares of rural land to allow subdivision for housing was expected to be held in December.
That has been put off until the end of April, while a landowner outside the proposed residential area sought an Environment Court decision on whether its submission to be included in the rezoning should be considered.
Palmerston North Industrial and Residential Developments Ltd owns a 23.8-hectare block of land on the corner of Stoney Creek and Kelvin Grove Road. The area had earlier been identified as part of an urban growth path.
The company's submission asked that it be included in the rezoning.
Environment Court Judge Brian Dwyer, however, has ruled that the request is outside the scope of Proposed Plan Change 6 to the city's District Plan.
The ruling is consistent with other recent decisions that such submissions could give rise to outcomes not contemplated or communicated to people who could be affected when the proposals were publicly advertised. If the rezoning was added on, that would be from "out of left field", Judge Dwyer said.
The decision was released on February 4, and there is still time for appeal.
Company director Alan Currie said he had no comment on the ruling at this stage.
City planner David Murphy said the land was not identified in any current future land use strategies.
It also lay under flight paths, subject to noise from Palmerston North Airport, and the council did not want to allow development that could impact on future growth of the airport.
While the council agreed with the Environment Court decision, he said the delay was a concern.
The council had earlier preferred the option of residential growth at City West, just beyond the Amberley area, but had turned away from that after the Christchurch earthquakes, citing potential liquefaction risks.
Whakarongo was seen as a natural extension of Kelvin Grove, and the risks of liquefaction or flooding were much less.
However, the council is being challenged through a proposed private plan change to allow residential growth towards Longburn.
That proposal has been notified and a hearing is likely in May, just weeks behind the Whakarongo hearing.