The battle to extend kitchen in a high flood zone are

HURDLES: Southshore couple Dylan Wood and Charlotte Donne have been through a long drawn out process with the city council to get a small extension to their home.
Charlotte Donne and Dylan Wood wanted nothing more than to
add a small extension to their home in time for their first child’s arrival in September.
The Southshore couple had planned to expand their small beach cottage by 60 sq m to allow for more space in their kitchen and lounge area.

But what should have been a simple process to get a building consent from
the city council for their home on Rocking Horse Rd turned into a long “battle”.

Charlotte Donne and Dylan Wood wanted nothing more than to
add a small extension to their home in time for their first child’s arrival in September.

The Southshore couple had planned to expand their small beach cottage by 60 sq m to allow for more space in their kitchen and lounge area.

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Coastal residents living in the city council’s High Flood Management Plan area are facing difficulties obtaining resource consent to extend their homes or build on empty sections.

Miss Donne and Mr Wood lodged their consent application in November last year but only received the go-ahead last month.

The Christchurch Coastal Residents’ United group say a restricted discretionary activity rule, recommended by the replacement District Plan independent hearings panel, was left out when the plan was finalised last year. The group is made up of coastal residents and experts.

Without the discretionary rule, under the District Plan new developments or intensification of land use in the High Flood Management Plan area is to be avoided.

Coastal­-Burwood Community Board deputy chairman Tim Sintes said leaving the rule out may have been a mistake and he is working with interested parties to put it right.

He said for residents to buy a section of land and be told they can’t build or get their money back was an “extremely distressing” position to be in.

A city council independent hearings panel decision on the rule was scheduled to be made on Friday but was delayed and will not be out until Monday next week.

It comes as Regenerate Christchurch has started public consultation with Southshore and South New Brighton residents on how to solve rising sea level issues. MPs met last month to help solve residents’ problems over getting resource consents.

Christchurch East MP Poto Williams said MPs will decide on what their next action will be based on the decision made by the independent hearings panel.

Miss Donne and Mr Wood were originally told by the city council a building consent would be granted in February.

But after agreeing to sign a waiver under section 72 of the Building Act 2004 in their property’s certificate of title, the consent was granted last month.

Mr Sintes said by signing the waiver, the city council cannot take the blame if anything was to go wrong with the property.

Miss Donne said if she hadn’t signed the waiver, the couple would have had to go down the road of getting a resource consent as well.

She said it was “daunting” signing the document as it made them uncertain as to how it could affect them in the future in terms of insurance.

Mr Sintes said in the last few weeks, residents in the High Flood Management Plan area have been telling him they have had difficulty getting insurance.

Miss Donne said she feels lucky to have a building consent in the coastal area.

“Some people would say we are crazy investing in our first home here, but we love the beach lifestyle and wouldn’t live anywhere else.”

She said the extension could have been built before her baby was born. It is due on September 25. The couple now won’t begin the project until summer. Their home, referred to as a “beach shack”, is currently 70 sq m.

“Not living in such a small place that your work clothes smell of last night’s roast lamb because the wardrobe is near the kitchen will be nice,” she said.

They were aware they were in a flood zone and contacted the city council before engaging in the project in about November.

Miss Donne said the city council initially told them they would need higher floor levels to allow the consent to go ahead. But then they began to get unclear answers.

She attended several community board meetings and went to Mr Sintes to resolve the issue before the city council proposed the couple signed the waiver.

But Miss Donne acknowledged the long process was not entirely the city council’s fault as the couple’s engineer had moved away without telling them, leaving them “hanging for months”.

•HAVE YOUR SAY: Are you living in the High Flood Management Plan area and have struggled to get a resource consent? Email your views to georgia.oconnor@starmedia.kiwi

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