The joint venture group behind the Ruakura commercial, industrial and residential development has asked Hamilton City Council to change the area's prohibited activity status so it can lodge resource consent applications sooner.
Council's strategy and policy committee heard last Tuesday that Tainui Group Holdings Ltd (TGH) and Chedworth Park Ltd had lodged with council a private plan change application which affects land within the Ruakura Structure Plan Area on the current District Plan.
In light of the application, an extraordinary council meeting was held last Thursday where the majority of councillors voted to pass an amendment to defer a decision on whether to accept or reject the application until April 11.
Bill Cowie, spokesman for Percival Rd residents whose properties sit alongside the proposed development, said the families were grateful that council had decided to take more time to study the latest proposal. "This private plan change was lodged on December 20 and it only came into the public arena on February 19. It's quite a big plan change. Councillors are saying they need time to study the report and get the decision right."
TGH and Chedworth Park had asked that the area's prohibited activity status be removed from the Hamilton City Operative Plan. Rather than await this outcome via the District Plan review process, the joint venture is seeking to make the changes sooner via a private plan change. If the prohibited activity status was replaced with a discretionary activity status, as set out in the Proposed District Plan, the joint venture could apply for resource consent for commercial and industrial activities on the land as an interim measure while the District Plan review continues.
Council staff say there is no guarantee resource consent would be granted and concede any resource consent application would be challenging for the joint venture.
Mr Cowie said the extraordinary council meeting last week had also seen council "invite" TGH to meet with Percival Road residents to try to come to an agreement regarding the residents' requests for a 40m greenbelt and 4m high earthen bund around the Percival Rd perimeter. He said council had also "instructed" TGH to meet with residents to explain the private plan changes and "accept feedback".
The joint application asked that council adopt the change request as its own. However, staff recommendations, and that of an independent legal advisor, recommended council accept the plan change for process and notification.
The report to the strategy and policy committee stated that to achieve a more robust and transparent decision-making process, delegating hearing and deciding the plan change to independent commissions would be appropriate.