Hitch for development

KAT PICKFORD
Last updated 08:00 22/11/2012
Erosion risk
Emma Allen

Erosion risk: Commissioner John Maassen, left, and Councillors Jamie Arbuckle and David Oddie at the site of the proposed subdivision in the Taylor Pass.

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A Marlborough District Council report has recommended that the commissioners decline a zone change application for a 160-site subdivision south of Blenheim.

The report commissioned by the council was presented by town planning expert Paul Whyte and other consultants during the third day of the consent hearing at the Marlborough Convention Centre in Blenheim yesterday.

The application for the proposed subdivision, named Maxwell Hills near the intersection of Maxwell Pass and Taylor Pass roads south of Blenheim, has been put forward by Marlborough businessman John Marris' company Kapiti Views Trust.

The planned subdivision is to have 160 properties ranging from 2000 to 4000 square metres on the 50 hectare site, zoned Rural 4.

Mr Whyte said there was still a lot of detail missing about the project and he was not confident there would be no problems from waste water and stormwater and erosion at a later date.

"There seems to have been a reactive approach by the applicant," he said "A number of issues remain, including who is going to manage the infrastructure."

The question of how the developers planned to maintain the significant infrastructure in the subdivision had been raised by hearing chairman John Maassen throughout the hearing.

The council indicated it might take over the upkeep of the roads, but questions remained over the high cost of maintaining the 2.5 kilometres of road cutting and the expansive cut-off drain and sub-surface drain which would manage the erosion hazard.

Mr Marris' lawyer Murray Hunt said the community of 160 people was a significant resource to maintain the key infrastructure, and added the company would provide more details about the costs to the commissioners.

Geotechnical expert Paul Russell acknowledged while the soil conditions were difficult, they were not impossible to control using established engineering techniques.

However, land would erode if the details of the proposed cut off drain were not designed or built correctly, or the maintenance was poorly managed. This could leave council with a potentially expensive repair job to compensate property owners, he said.

"If the details are incomplete or unsatisfactory, given the nature of the soils present, tunnel gullying and erosion can be expected."

Flood expert Brin Williman said he had doubts about construction of the proposed diversion bund on the "exceptionally steep" slope of 40 degrees.

The slope would need to be eased, and the width of the bund increased to meet council standards, which would substantially increase the size of the structure, he said.

He was "comfortable" with the applicant's proposed flood measures, which were capable of coping with one metre above a one-in-100 year flood, and which were more than double the council's standards.

His evidence allayed Mr Maassen's concerns, who told Mr Marris it was no longer necessary to provide a plan for a one-in-200 year flood that he had asked for on Tuesday.

However, he did ask for a larger landscape plan, showing the planned retaining walls and an updated picture of what the subdivision was likely to look like closer to completion.

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He also asked for an information policy to inform future landowners about the environment they were dealing with, and how to protect themselves in event of fire.

- The Marlborough Express

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