93ha subdivision gets green light

South Island developers who want to build a subdivision for up to 2000 houses plus retail stores have welcomed an Environment Court decision, saying they should start earthworks in spring.

Christchurch businessman Tom Kain said the decision this week by the court meant the 93 hectare subdivision near Clearwater Resort and on land behind the corner of Johns Road and Main North Road could begin in a staged process. Houses would be priced from $280,000.

The ruling essentially rezoned the land into Living G, which meant it could be used for higher-density residential housing, he said.

The land had previously been used for orchards and involved owners including a Malaysian group (Eminence Investments which owns 28 hectares) and smaller holders.

Kain said he and fellow developers also had consents from Christchurch City Council to start earthworks and stormwater infrastructure on 10 hectares making up "stage one", which would be entered off Main North Road, opposite Belfast Road. There would also be other entry points off Johns Road.

Part of the land - about 36.5 hectares - is owned by "lead developer" Johns Road Horticultural Ltd (JRHL), in turn owned by South Island businessman Murray Valentine, who is a director of skifield operation NZSki.com and Jackson Valentine, a Dunedin based accountancy firm.

Valentine said others including Christchurch businessmen Kain and Justin Prain would be rewarded for their involvement in the subdivision project in a profit- sharing arrangement. Prain is a consultant in the rezoning and subdivision industry, and has been involved in projects like Pegasus and Clearwater.

Valentine did not want to be specific on his investment in the project but said it was in the order of tens of millions of dollars.

He bought the land three or four years ago. While the land had been previously owned by Apple Fields (connected to Kain) it had been through a couple of other owners including an Auckland company before he bought it.

Barrister Pru Steven, of Canterbury Chambers, in her summary of the decision said it was a very good decision for JRHL.

"The court has ordered that virtually all the amendments sought by JRHL be made to the Living G zone provisions, thus maximising the immediate development potential of the land," she said.

Kain said the first application over the orchard land had been made by Apple Fields about 12 years ago for rural residential lifestyle blocks.

The project had moved on substantially since then. There had been various owners of the parcels of land that made up the 93 hectares.

"The court considers it ideal for more intensive urban development," he said.

Parts of the council were also supportive of the plan for "new urbanism or neighbourhood development as it's called in the States . . . these villages are (also) mixed use, so they're offices, retails, cafes and bars." He said Valentine was the principal funder with the help of banks.

Transit NZ had at one point objected to the development.

However, he said that a "western Belfast bypass" was now one of the Government's seven roads of national significance, and would help allay Transit's concerns about the local network.

A Christchurch City Council spokeswoman said she could not provide comment on the consent process with the Belfast Village site.

The Press