Businesses shatter rural tranquility

CATE BROUGHTON
Last updated 15:03 15/03/2014
Duane Stringer
STACY SQUIRES/Fairfax NZ
UNHAPPY: Duane Stringer says plans for a gravel quarry next door will drain his pond.

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Demand for a slice of country living in North Canterbury has seen an increased number of property disputes.

Sarah and Tim Wyeth moved to their lifestyle block in Flaxton, just outside of Rangiora 10 years ago.

"We thought it would be good to get out of the Christchurch city smog for my asthma," Sarah Wyeth said.

Paul King moved next door soon after the Wyeths, and established a scrap-yard business, which they say brought an end to their dreams of the "good life".

The earthquakes saw his business grow, and Sarah Wyeth said dust from fires at the site have worsened her asthma.

King said he had tried to address the Wyeth's complaints, spending $15,000 on plants and bunding.

". . . but at the end of the day they have a right to complain and I have a right to do my business."

The Wyeths say they feel let down by the Waimakariri District Council.

"Why isn't the council going in to bat for us? They just make it so hard for affected parties to contest the application."

In another case of paradise lost, Kaiapoi business owner Dave Clemence was granted consent to bury demolition waste just metres from Bernadette Williams' home.

Up to 100 trucks a day use a shared road, diggers have cut power to Williams' house, and she no longer enjoys being in her garden because of dust and noise.

Clemence said his operation is fully consented and he has the support of the regional and local councils.

"It's not like we're doing anything wrong, but some people are more accommodating of change than others."

Waimakariri District Mayor David Ayers said the Christchurch rebuild had increased pressure on rural land and this had created a dilemma for the council.

He said the council would "look at" rules around acceptable business activities on rural land.

In the Hurunui District, Christchurch Ready Mix Concrete has applied for consent to build a large quarry in Leithfield, just south of Amberley.

Duane Stringer bought his dream lifestyle block seven years ago and was just about to build a family home there when he found out the sand and gravel quarry could be built on the neighbouring land.

"I was absolutely gutted. My wife completely freaked out and wanted to drop the block of land and even just sell it at a loss just to get out of it."

Hurunui Mayor Winton Dalley said he had sympathy for those who were affected by business activity on rural land, but a false perception of country life did not help.

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"Rural areas are actually industrial areas, so when people think they come to the countryside for a quiet and peaceful environment, that's not necessarily the case."

- The Press

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