Monday, 27 February 2006

NZ beachfront property-owners denied rights by council tsunami

As a recent hearing under the Resource Management Act (RMA) demonstrates, the days of enjoying a beachfront barbie on a beachfront deck may soon be over. In fact, as the Tauranga hearing for a $300 million 741-unit development on the Papamoa beachfront shows, the days of beachfront living may themselves be numbered.

Unfortunately, I do not exaggerate when I say that.

For some years now the Tauranga District Council, Environment Bay of Plenty and other councils around the country have had district plan rules written under the RMA that make the construction of new homes on beachfront land well-nigh impossible. Property-owners who have bought on the Papamoa coast for example have found that Council will simply refuse to issue a permit for new work because, they are told by Council planners, 1) global waming, rising sea levels and future tsunamis make such building unsafe, and 2) the so-called 'intrinsic value' of ecosystems means that sand dunes must take precedence over property-owners. Beachfront property that was bought in fulfilment of a dream has turned into a nightmare for some property-owners who have no way of building their dream on their own land -- or in some case of even building anything!

Individual property-owners having their dreams rejected no longer make headlines. A recent hearing to consider an application by developer Frasers Papamoa to build 741 apartments has made headlines, but only in the Bay of Plenty.

The regional council is fighting construction of a $300 million luxury apartment complex in the Western Bay because of fears a tsunami could inundate it. Environment Bay of Plenty has objected to the proposed 741-unit Papamoa Gateway project. The complex would be a mixture of architecturally-designed houses, duplexes and apartments on the 25ha Rifle Range site on Papamoa Beach Rd. Part of it would contain 100 luxury beachfront apartments.

Martin Butler, a resource policy manager, yesterday told a commissioners hearing panel in Tauranga the council was most concerned the tsunami threat had not been addressed by developer Frasers Papamoa or by Tauranga City Council...

Kate Barry-Piceno, representing Frasers Papamoa, said in earlier meetings with Environment BOP it was acknowledged that high apartment buildings were far safer on the beachfront than single-level dwellings.

"Mr Butler seems to be suggesting, based on his submission, that Environment BOP will now oppose all persons living on the coastline," she said.

Read that last sentence again, and give it some thought. "[Council planner Martin] Butler seems to be suggesting, based on his submission, that Environment BOP will now oppose all persons living on the coastline," said Kate Berry-Piceno. She does not exaggerate. At present, it seems, sand dunes have rights and people don't; council planners have rights but property-owners don't; the RMA has taken away property rights and common sense, and it really, really, really needs to go.

In the meantime, if councils want to have parks and reserves along the beachfront then let them buy the land from property-owners instead of stealing it by artifice and bullying.

UPDATE: An article on the Papamoa problems from November 1998 by one home-owner denied the right to build on his own land can be found here: Dune Madness.
An earlier 'Not PC' opinion piece on the same subject can be found here: Clark in a Cossie.
An update on the situation can be found here: Dune Madness - Updated.

LINKS: Tsunami fears bring fight against $300m apartments - Bay of Plenty Times
It's time to drive a stake through the heart of the RMA [PDF] - Peter Cresswell
Dune Madness - Jonathan Livingston Seagull (November, 1998)
Clark in a Cossie - Peter Cresswell (April, 2002)
Dune Madness - Updated - Jonathan Livingston Seagull (April, 2005)

TAGS: Property Rights, RMA, Environment, Common Law, Politics-NZ

1 comment:

  1. Don't tell them about asteriod strike- nobody will be able to build anywhere!


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