Bay of Islands consents guided by RMA rules

Published on 28 November 2019

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The Council is listening to resident concerns about two separate developments proposed for the Bay of Islands, but says it is bound by Resource Management Act rules when it assesses resource consents.

Bay of Islands residents have recently objected to two resource consent applications, one for a proposed helicopter landing pad in Russell, and another for a housing development at Opua to be built by the Council’s commercial company, Far North Holdings Ltd.

People opposed to a proposal to develop 18 residential lots on Kellett Street in Opua presented a 272-signature petition to the Council during its 19 November meeting. Mayor John Carter accepted the petition and said elected members would take advice on the concerns petitioners raised.

The Council issued a resource consent for the development on 20 August, but some residents have complained they were not consulted on the proposal. General Manager - District Services, Dr Dean Myburgh, says the decision not to consult was made by an independent planning consultant in accordance with guidelines set out in the Resource Management Act.

The Council commissioned a consultant planner to make the decision, because it shouldn’t assess applications lodged by its commercial company to avoid a conflict of interest. “The assessment was very thorough. Each property neighbouring the development was assessed for possible adverse impacts. Input from hapÅ« was also considered. The independent planner determined no adverse impacts outlined in the Resource Management Act would apply and that limited notification to neighbouring or affected property owners would not be required.”

Dr Myburgh says the independent planner also ruled out a full public consultation. This decision was based on 2017 Resource Management Act amendments that set a very high threshold for public notifications. “The application was for a residential activity, and these can only be publicly notified if there is a non-complying activity or where there are special circumstances. Neither applied in this case.”

However, he adds that just because a resource consent has been granted does not guarantee the project will go ahead. It will be up to Far North Holdings Ltd to decide if and how the project proceeds.

Dr Myburgh says a resource consent application for a helicopter pad at Russell has been suspended until extra information is provided.

“The applicant has 20 working days to supply the information, but this will depend on the availability of relevant experts. Once that information is supplied, a decision will be made by the Council on whether the application needs to be notified.”

The Council will post notification information on its website and he urges anyone interested in the application to sign up for updates to be automatically emailed to them. “That can be done easily by ticking the ‘Get updates’ box on the View resource consent applications page.”