'Visual zone' plan upsets landowners

HANNAH MCLEOD
Last updated 05:00 01/04/2014

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The Southland District Council has not done enough to warn ratepayers of proposed changes to their rights as landowners, Manapouri resident Colleen Hampton says.

Hampton was among those who spoke to the council's resource management committee about the natural features and landscapes section of the council's proposed district plan in Te Anau yesterday.

Most were opposed to the change from rural zoning to the introduction of a "visual amenities landscape" zone, which will have the biggest impact on farms in the Te Anau area.

The change of zoning would see more restrictions placed on subdivisions, new buildings and work that could affect the visual appeal of land within the zone.

Hampton said that while she was not totally opposed to the proposed zoning changes, she was disappointed at the lack of notification for landowners directly affected by them. "I was surprised to learn I did not have to be individually told."

Hampton acknowledged the council had probably followed the minimum requirements for public notification, but said they needed to do more. "[When you are going to] remove a person's individual rights, you do need to go an extra step," she said.

Hampton called for a letter to be sent to ratepayers to notify them they "might" be affected by the proposed changes.

Southland District Council manager of resource management Simon Moran said Hampton's comments were fair, but the council in fact went beyond the minimum requirements for public notification, including sending out pamphlets summarising the proposed changes.

Committee chairman councillor Paul Duffy assured Hampton it was not the council's intention to mislead ratepayers or hide information from them.

Te Anau resident Alison Gibbs, who spoke on behalf of Bruce Campbell, said the changes would have a negative impact on people's ability to farm productively. "Stop interfering with people's livelihoods," she said.

Te Anau Community Board deputy chairman Rachel Cockburn spoke on behalf of the board in support of the proposed plan.

She also spoke separately about her own views, saying she supported the proposed plan, especially rules that allowed accommodation to be provided from residences as a permitted activity.

The district plan has not been reviewed since 2001. The proposed changes could have an impact on all land use activities allowed in the district.

Hearings on the plan are expected to continue until the end of July, with the second hearing in Te Anau today.

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