How we plan in Kerikeri: Part 4

Tubbs farm/Rangitane River Park subdivision

Good news: the development proposal disallowed by Commissioners

I

n July Commissioners disallowed a proposal by developer Neil Construction to build 124 more houses on the remaining area of Tubbs Farm. The proposal was opposed by VKK, local residents, Friends of Rangitane Stream, Kapiro Residents Association, Kiwi Coast, DOC and an independent planners report for FNDC. This was very good news but first a little bit of planning history.


What was planned

In 2007 the Overseas Investment Office allowed overseas investors to buy Tubbs Farm (about 125 ha) for $16.875M in an area zoned Coastal Living. In 2008 the developer proposed a ‘management plan’ subdivision to create 179 sections in 9 stages. The minimum lot size in the Coastal Living zone is normally 4ha, but smaller lots are allowed in management plan subdivisions that aim to provide ‘superior environmental outcomes’ (District Plan Policy 13.4.12). The management plan was innovative in concept and enlightened in its consideration of the environment. There was clustered housing of generally smaller lots sizes, and 30% of the site was set aside for large green open spaces with extensive native plantings, which meandered between clustered lots (see Fig.1). It included a communal sewage treatment system which replaced the need for individual septic or bio-cycle disposal systems. While many of us would have liked Tubbs Farm to exist in perpetuity and did not wish the creation of an outlying settlement, VKK considered this management plan would be a significantly better development and more sustainable than the norm and gave conditional support. Our main concern together with the Kiwi Foundation was insufficient protection for a known area of kiwi presence, particularly the lack of control of dogs. It was fundamentally flawed to permit dogs, a Kiwi predator, while also proposing native planting for kiwi habitat. VKK and the NZ Kiwi Foundation participated in an Environment Court mediation which revised the consent conditions to include ecological corridors for kiwi and controls on dogs and cats.


What actually happened

However, the developer decided to ignore the management plan approved in 2009. Entirely different plans for stages 1 and 2 (57 lots), were submitted to be built on the eastern side of the property over almost all of the green spaces (see Fig 2) formerly intended as kiwi habitat and open space. Each house would need its own sewerage system. Dog controls were insufficient. The new plans were consented by Council without need for notification and without informing previous submitters who had no awareness of these significant changes.


What happened next

Proposal for 124-section subdivision in 2020

In 2020 the developer applied for consent to subdivide the remaining western part of Tubbs farm into 124 new sections (Fig.2). The non-compliant plan would cover much of the area with houses, with very little green open space - a far cry from the earlier enlightened management plan. The area allocated for a reserve was not capable of being used to kick a ball around. The wetlands, although rather degraded, were not properly protected. Kiwi protection was insufficient. Briefly what was being proposed was suburbanisation of a rural landscape to the maximum extent possible without wider planning consideration. Moreover, today’s concerns about the loss of high-quality agricultural land (a finite resource), urban sprawl in rural areas, traffic impacts and water quality, led VKK and other groups to oppose the plan. In short we consider it to be the wrong development in the wrong place. The independent Commissioners agreed.




What happens now

Neil Construction has appealed to the Environment Court. Mediation is being proposed. Vision Kerikeri has registered as an interested party.