Hutt City approves retirement village plan change
Summerset's ambitions to build a $100 million retirement village at Boulcott, Lower Hutt, were advanced a significant stage further on Thursday evening.
The Hutt City Council approved the company's Private Plan Change with a 6-5 vote backing the recommendations of an independent commissioners hearing.
The approval, the last major decision of the 2013-16 Hutt council, followed lengthy debate and an earlier vote to defer any decision till after the local government elections and the formation of a new council.
The approval, barring any appeals to the Environment Court, allows for the rezoning of 2.9 hectares of former golf course land but does not give the go-ahead for the development.
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"It provides a policy framework to manage the design, scale and form of any retirement village sought through a resource consent process," the council's environmental policy manager Andrew Cumming said.
It does not provide for a particular design. The detail "of what is appropriate on the site" will be addressed through the consent stage.
Hutt City mayor Ray Wallace said approval was needed by all involved, including those opposed to the development.
"I do believe we need to take a leadership role. I want to give the Boulcott community some certainty," he said
"Any more delays, with a deferral here, would only keep them in the dark."
The issue had already taken nearly two years and could go on for another three, he said.
"Everybody fully supports the provision of facilities for the elderly, we are a growing older population and we need to provide that. It simply comes down to height, bulk and design," Wallace said.
"That's what the resource consent process will do and if we are there supporting our community I believe we will get a good outcome for the Boulcott area."
The independent commissioners had made the right decision and had taken on residents' concerns about the size of the development, he said.
A second decision, led by the deputy mayor David Bassett and unanimously supported, called for Wallace to organise meetings with Summerset, the resident group and council officers to find a "mutually agreeable" position.
"We will have the opportunity to put forward our view. And our view is for a low level facility that is in keeping with the character of the area.
"That has always been the view of the council, that was what was originally put to us and that changed," Wallace said.
There was little faith in the council and the Environment Court doing the right thing by Boulcott, resident Ian McLauchlan said at the start of the meeting.
"Summerset are unlikely to change their demands and will do everything in their power to build and obtain consent for an out-of-character retirement complex," he said.
Summerset welcomed the council decision.
The next step was to move ahead with a resource consent application for the proposed retirement village, CEO Julian Cook said..