Council pledges housing controls

18:06, Feb 26 2014

Marlborough is beautiful and it would be a tragedy not to plan development well, says the chairman of a planning committee that has been considering where to allow new housing near Blenheim.

Independent planning commissioner John Maassen was speaking at the end of a three-day hearing on proposed changes to the Marlborough District Council's Wairau Awatere District Plan.

The council proposes changing zoning from rural to residential on seven blocks of land to the north and northwest of Blenheim.

Mr Maassen said the panel's work was "very challenging but very exciting".

"This is a beautiful area, it would be a tragedy not to develop it well. That does involve a bit of thought as we work through the process."

However, the council was not unfamiliar with developing good urban areas, he said.


"The area by Taylor Pass is a success as far as I can see."

Mr Maassen and councillors David Oddie and Laressa Shenfield heard from 24 submitters covering a wide range of issues.

These ranged from property developers and surveyors keen to see more land freed up for housing subdivisions, to people concerned about buildings going on some of the more-productive agricultural soils in Marlborough.

Some farmers and people with businesses based in the areas proposed for rezoning were concerned about the effects housing could have on their activities. People might not be understanding about late-night noise or lights from vineyard harvesting or other activities, they said.

The proposed plan changes to seven blocks of land were being considered as one proposal, but the council anticipates that any development would be staggered.

Some of the blocks of land were more development-ready than others.

In an interim closing statement, council lawyer Peter Radich said the council accepted that the areas under consideration were "greenfields" sites and therefore development proposals had to be considered differently from those proposed in existing residential zoned areas.

The council planned to place subdivision in the areas under consideration as a "restricted discretionary activity", he said.

This would give it more control over which areas would be built on first and how they would be developed.

In setting rules for the areas, the council would want to ensure that subdivision and development could occur only when services were available. They would also want provisions for existing rural and commercial activities, requirements for parks and other greenspace, and requirements for appropriate foundation design.

"The expectation of council is that the categorisation of subdivisions as a restricted discretionary activity will allow adequate control over the sorts of issues that have arisen out of submissions."

Mr Maassen asked the council to provide more information to the panel as quickly as possible for its deliberations, and Mr Radich said he expected the council's final submission would be in within a week.

The hearing was not closed yesterday, because Mr Maassen said it was possible the panel might need to resume.


The Marlborough Express