A group of Coromandel residents are making a last-ditch attempt to raise awareness about Waikawau Bay's breathtaking coastal landscape before a nine-house development goes up.
The Save Waikawau Bay group says the first it knew about a development overlooking the south side of the beach was when earthworks began on the site in February.
Member Stephanie McKee, who has lived in the area for 40 years, said Waikawau Bay was one of the few natural coastlines left and needed to be protected. Thames Coromandel District Council confirmed the consent for nine residential lots, ranging from 1.08 to 2.89ha and a 2000sq m platform, was issued in December 2013. The applicant was Kamara Whenua, whose sole director is Kaye Rabarts.
Mrs Rabarts' lawyer, Brenda Flay, said the developer had no comment to make - other than to say that "due process was followed".
Mrs McKee said the consent should have been notified because of the major impact it poses on the wildlife and landscape.
"The reason the planner said there's no reason to notify this is there are no special circumstances, and that doesn't ring true, and that the environmental impacts will be 'less than minor'. Those two things kind of stood out as being not correct."
Previous attempts to develop the area into a resort town and a 10-house development with golf course over the past 50 years had failed, she said. The latest attempt in 2003 was stopped by the Nature Heritage Fund purchasing 150ha of land at the north end of Waikawau Bay.
Council development planning manager Michael Jones said the application was not publicly notified following careful consideration. The application was processed as a controlled activity within the structure plan and was assessed as part of a residential development. Under this process, no assessment against key coastal landscapes is required.
Mr Jones said the next step open to residents was to take proceedings in the High Court for a judicial review of the decision.
Waikato Regional Council incident response team leader Derek Hartley said the council had investigated concerns raised from members of the public about the earthworks on the site and found it did not breach either the council's regional plan rules or its coastal plan rules aimed at managing the allocation and use of coastal resource.
Coromandel MP Scott Simpson believed the consent had been granted in line with council's rules and said it was "not what you would call intrusive urban development".
"It's a very beautiful part of the peninsula, it's magnificent and environmentally significant. That said it is private property and the property owners have every right as long as they meet the district plan and requirements to develop their land as long as they meet the rules."
Save Waikawau Bay is holding a public event tomorrow at 12pm to celebrate the bay and draw attention to its beauty. American earthscape artist Andres Amador will create a large-scale carving on the sand.
A photo of the artwork will be taken by a drone before it is washed away.