Industry threat to rural idyll

By John Cousins

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Belk Rd Residents Group spokesman Paul Smyth wants protection of their rural aspect. Photo / Andrew Warner
Belk Rd Residents Group spokesman Paul Smyth wants protection of their rural aspect. Photo / Andrew Warner

People seeking country living in a popular Tauranga lifestyle destination will one day be driving past 16-metre high industrial buildings looming over their road.

The Belk Rd Residents Group yesterday challenged the council on how a 30m gap between their road and the future growth of the Tauriko industrial area had shrunk to 10m.

They were submitting on Tauranga City Council's proposed changes to planning rules affecting the Tauriko Business Estate. The staged growth of the estate would eventually see development pushed through to the bottom section of Belk Rd.

Group spokesman Paul Smyth said while they were not opposed to industrial and commercial development in the Tauriko Valley, they were "extremely concerned" about the transition between the industrial and rural zones and the protection of their rural aspect.

Referring to the original 2006 planning decision which allowed the creation of the industrial area, Mr Smyth said they were led to believe that a 30m greenbelt would separate Belk Rd.

"We have now realised that this is not the case and, for a considerable distance along Belk Rd, industrial buildings can be built 16m high at 10m back from Belk Rd."

He also questioned the status of the 80m separation zone established in 2006 to protect the Crail and Hayman family kiwifruit orchards now the New Zealand Transport Agency owned the Crail orchard and estate developer Element IMF owned the Hayman orchard.

Council policy planner James Danby said although the planting buffer notified in the original plan was 30m, the final decision in 2006 had been to reduce the buffer to 10m.

Mr Smyth responded by saying residents did not have any recollection of the negotiations that led to the 10m buffer.

Allan Watson, the independent commissioner hearing the plan change, said he was unable to revisit earlier proceedings.

Everyone would have presented their points of view in 2006 and a decision was made.

Another big concern for residents, the reduction in the size of a stormwater detention pond and the lifting of the pond 4m above the level of Belk Rd, had been solved by Element IMF withdrawing the proposal after the Bay of Plenty Regional Council placed big hurdles in front of the developer, including modelling the entire Wairoa River catchment.

Residents were afraid that reducing the pond's size and lifting it above the level of the road would see all the water come their way if the banks burst.

Belk Rd residents' requests for industrial expansion

*Reduce building heights and widen distance to road boundary
*Controls on building colours
*More effective rules on screen planting
*Reduce rural conflict from activities and storage around industrial buildings

- Bay of Plenty Times

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