John is a senior reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

$100m retirement village approved

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An example of the views from Tekoah Place that will eventually get swallowed up by the plan to redevelop Melrose Village off Waihi Rd
An example of the views from Tekoah Place that will eventually get swallowed up by the plan to redevelop Melrose Village off Waihi Rd

A Tauranga couple are "bitterly disappointed" that their panoramic views will be obliterated by the $100 million redevelopment of Melrose Retirement Village.

Ian and Karen Clare of Tekoah Place were pinning their hopes that the commissioner who heard the application from Oceania Healthcare would rule in favour of at least allowing them to retain some of their outlook across the city.

But the decision by city council independent hearing commissioner Jenny Hudson did not lower or break up the bulk of the apartment block closest to their boundary.

Ms Hudson granted the application to redevelop the village which will include building 60 care home beds, 209 retirement apartments and 9 retirement villas on the Waihi Rd site.

On the most controversial issue, the loss of views from five neighbouring Tekoah Place properties, the commissioner said the evidence was persuasive.

It was acknowledged that views would be lost to some degree by any complying two-storey development along the western boundary of the site.

"I must weigh the interests and rights of the applicant against those of the submitters. While the District Plan requires the protection of views in some circumstances, notably in relation to public land, it does not protect views from private property."

Ms Hudson said Oceania Healthcare's evidence demonstrated unequivocally that a permitted development could occur without any consideration of the loss of an existing view.

She said the evidence of Oceania lawyer Vanessa Hamm stated the issue succinctly. Ms Hamm stated: "The properties afford their view by looking over a single storey building on the Melrose site. A decision declining consent would in effect consign the buildings on the Melrose site to a single level which, by any stretch of the imagination, is unreasonable".

Ms Hudson also sited Oceania's expert evidence which said that separating the apartment buildings into small blocks to create gaps was not practicable as it would create access difficulties for village residents. Lowering the ground level of the site to reduce building height infringements was impracticable because of the greater extent of earthworks that would be required.

She noted that even if the relatively small height infringements of the two buildings closest to Tekoah Place were removed, the overall loss of views would be "similar"

Ms Hudson said the separation distances between the buildings and the site boundary, combined with layered landscaping, would provide "adequate mitigation" for the loss of views for the small number of Tekoah Place properties.

Looking at the whole site, she said the bulk and scale of the proposed buildings were compatible with the surrounding residential area. "Overall and on balance, any actual and potential adverse effects of the proposal will be acceptable...the proposal represents an efficient use of land within an urban environment and will maintain community values."

Ms Hudson said the proposal would provide a wider range of specialist housing designed to meet the needs of an aging population."

Mrs Clare said they would now have to consider selling their home. Residents had not had time to really digest the decision in order to see if there were grounds for an appeal.

An appeal began at $3000 just to get the ball rolling, plus legal costs, and she was not sure how many of them could afford this. "The bottom line is that money talks and they are all bigger than us."

She was disappointed that Oceania did not come up with a compromise that could have at least retained some of their outlook. "Most of us held a glimmer of hope that there would be some recognition."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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