Ridge to lose its special zone rules

CATHIE BELL
Last updated 12:41 03/02/2014

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Having separate zoning rules for the Marlborough Ridge subdivision had "failed" and the Marlborough District Council plans to rezone the site to fit with the rest of the district's planning rules.

The proposal will be put to the council's regional development and planning committee at its meeting on Wednesday.

Council planning officer Mark Caldwell said the zone had moved on from the "touristy thing" originally intended.

"It's not that now. We have some issues with zoning."

Some of those issues included people needing resource consent to build houses on their sections because the sections were on land originally intended to be a "village green" recreation area.

The Marlborough Ridge Zone was set up as a separate appendix to the council's Wairau Awatere Resource Management Plan, to accommodate tourist development which was to "build upon, and enhance recreational , cultural, and commercial opportunities in the region". It was to include viticulture activity and provide for opportunities to live in a rural environment in a variety of property sizes.

The Marlborough Ridge development was first proposed in 1995, by Australian property developer Colin Lofts. The $25 million project was to include a hotel, about 100 residential sections, a conference centre and an 18-hole golf course.

However the Asian financial crisis of 1997-1998 left the hotel project without much-needed Asian backing and the developers got into financial difficulties.

Forty-two sections had been unconditionally sold by 1999, when ANZ Bank stepped in as receiver for the failed development. Marlborough Ridge was revitalised as a subdivision when bought in 2003 by the Smith family. The family also did the Covent Garden and Notting Hill housing subdivisions in Springlands.

As it is now, Marlborough Ridge has about 150 lots for residential development, with a conservation area, lake and wetland, a vineyard, and the balance of the site grazed by stock.

Mr Caldwell said the development had moved on since 2003, but Mr Smith still had an interest in some sections.

He had been consulted informally about the proposal, but council staff were waiting for approval from councillors before calling a public meeting and talking to residents.

In a report to Wednesday's committee meeting, staff say it has "become apparent that the development of the Marlborough Ridge Zone has not achieved the intentions and objectives of the zone".

There was no hotel or related facilities such as conference centres, bars, or cafes. There were no recreational facilities, such as water gardens, restaurants, or a viticulture museum.

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"The zone is reaching its maximum development potential and it is highly unlikely the activities which are provided for in the zone provisions but not yet built will be realised because of a lack of market demand and available space.

"Given the failure of the zone to achieve its desired outcomes and in particular the provision of hotel development, and the somewhat confusing provisions, it is proposed to amend the [Wairau Awatere Resource Management Plan] WARMP to enable better administration and to retain the integrity of the WARMP, with minor amendments . . ."


TIMELINE

1995: Marlborough Ridge development with 100 residential sections, a hotel and conference centre, proposed.

1999: Asian financial crisis stops financial backing and ANZ Bank puts the development in receivership.

2003: Marlborough's Smith family take over the development.

2014: Marlborough District Council proposes removing the development's separate zoning rules. 

- The Marlborough Express

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