Temple View spat may not halt new work

Work on the Temple View development could get under way despite an appeal that brought the project to a halt.

The Temple View Heritage Society appealed the resource consent which approved the demolition of Church College buildings to make way for a stake centre, residential houses and community park.

Development leader Paul Coward said they wanted to get started on the ground work before the appeal was heard and hoped the Environment Court would give it the go ahead.

"The church would like to commence foundation settling on the soils where the stake centre and carpark will be constructed, and is currently applying to the Environment Court to commence this work," he said.

"In the next few weeks, a variety of smaller structures will be removed including carports, garages, paths, palm trees, path shelters, [and] chemical storage tanks."

Two school buildings - the Kai Hall and the GR Biesinger building - will be renovated as part of the development.

New Zealand Historic Places Trust area manager Fiona Low gave the project the all clear and said there was a "low potential for adverse effects on archaeology."

Temple View Heritage Society chairman Pita Witehira said it was a cynical move and the developers should follow due process.

"I think they are just having us on basically, you can't do that," Mr Witehira said. "If there is property in danger, in urgent need to settle the ground, fair enough, go ahead, but there is no danger."

The Waikato Times understands a rift had opened between Mr Witehira and founding members who questioned the validity of the appeal.

One founding member, Robert Belbin, said he was not consulted on the decision to appeal and he made a submission to the court opposing it.

He said Mr Witehira was self-appointed and the original members were forced out.

"It appears to me like a lunatic fringe has taken over the TVHS and are hiding behind this entity."

Mr Belbin said theentity was established to act as an independent voice from the church but the present members told him he didn't have a say.

"They said it's tough bikkies. Just because you are on the incorporation documents it doesn't mean you have any say or have anything to do with the society," Mr Belbin said.

In a submission to the Hamilton City Council last November Mr Witehira said he was a founding member of the society, but was not on the 2009 application to incorporate.

His wife Elizabeth Witehira was a witness to the application.

Mr Witehira said a group of people who hadn't attended any meetings were against him. He had been there right from the start.

"Everybody knows that and if they claim otherwise they are not being totally honest about it.

"They were all for what we were doing but when the church, years later, said they wanted to develop a medical centre and old people's village there, these people had a vested interest and they flipped, but they've never attended the meetings anyway."

Waikato Times