Relief after consent granted to build on waterfront site

RELIEF: Resource consent has been granted to build on this waterfront section in Redcliffs.

A long-awaited outcome to whether people can build in parts of Redcliffs could have a flow-on effect for others in the same situation.

Section owner Wendy Gilchrist said she was “greatly relieved” that an independent hearing panel on Thursday granted her resource consent to build on a waterfront site in Main Rd after a year-long wait.

Following the decision, city council acting head of resource consents Andy Christofferson wrote in a memorandum to Mayor Lianne Dalziel, the panel’s ruling would be “valuable in shaping city council officers thinking on this matter going forward.”

It came a day after more than 100 residents met with Christchurch Coastal Residents’ United to hear about issues being faced by coastal property owners when trying to get resource and building consents.

The meeting looked at how 1486 sites in a Restricted Unit Overlay within the High Flood Hazard Management Area are being treated by city council planners. Most of the sites are in Redcliffs, South Brighton and Southshore.

CCRU says a restricted discretionary activity rule for properties inside the RUO – a rule recommended by the Replacement District Plan independent hearings panel – was altered when the plan was implemented last year, and people wanting to build or extend are now getting into difficulty with city council planners.

“The final city council produced hearing documents omitted the key paragraph that made the RUO effective,” CCRU chairman Simon Watts said at the meeting.

However, yesterday the city council rebutted Mr Watts’ claim.

Said city council head of planning and strategic transport David Griffiths: “The Christchurch District Plan contains the restricted discretionary activity rule . . . as decided by the Independent Hearings Panel in their Decision 53.”

However, Linwood-Central-Heathcote Community Board member Darrell Latham is backing the CCRU view on the issue.

He said by omitting the “activating clause” relating to the RUO, the city council had made building within the Southshore and Redcliffs HFHMA prohibitive.

“They have not in good faith followed the intent of the independent hearings panel recommendations and this must be a cause for serious concern,’’ Dr Latham said.

Question marks remain over whether owners will be able to build within the RUO – a subset of more than 1400 properties where the hazard is from sea level rise, not river breaches – after the hearing panel said Mrs Gilchrist’s consent was an exception and “cannot in any way create a planning precedent for applications on sites in other parts of the Residential Unit Overlay.”

Last month Labour MPs Ruth Dyson, Duncan Webb and Poto Williams met with members of CCRU and Dr Latham to discuss the problem and a potential remedy.

Ms Dyson said after that meeting they had agreed to do further investigations before making a decision on “what intervention, if any, is necessary or appropriate.”

Dr Latham told Bay Harbour News yesterday he wanted Greater Christchurch Regeneration Minister Megan Woods to use her powers under the Christchurch Regeneration Act to fast track changes to the city’s district plan.

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