The Hastings District Council will this week begin considering the adequacy of its proposed district plan as it relates to outstanding natural features and landscapes, particularly Te Mata Peak.
At the end of last month, a council-commissioned review of the granting of a non-notified resource consent application by Craggy Range Winery to build a track up the eastern face of the peak found the council could have been more thorough, particularly in regard to assessing the cultural implications of the decision.
A report presented to the planning and regulatory committee, which meets today, is seeking guidance on what changes should be made to provide more protection for the peak, both faces of which were identified in the current district plan as outstanding landscapes and features, singled out to be afforded the highest priority protection.
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This classification arose from an assessment that was conducted in 1996 and said of the east face that its significance arose from its "sculptural and picturesque" landform, including "the openness and uniformity of grass cover that enables the landform shape to be appreciated and the play of light and shadow to accentuate its form".
Several options were being presented to the committee, including retaining the status quo, or undertaking a variation to highlight cultural considerations more thoroughly.
While there was an option to change the activity status of earthworks and subdivisions, in summing up, report authors group manager planning and regulatory John O'Shaughnessy and senior environmental planner Anna Summerfield recommended against such changes.
"This option is likely to result in a greater level of resistance from landowners as it would require much higher costs and increased time to get the activity through the consent process," they said.
They noted that any variation to the plan would be subject to a full evaluation under the Resource Management Act, which would consider the costs and benefits, and that appropriate scrutiny would be given to any future resource consent application.
The report also recommended that the council consult with mana whenua on the appropriateness of identifying Te Mata Peak as a wahi taonga (a site of significance to Maori) in the proposed district plan.
Any decision made by the committee would go before the full council for ratification.
Craggy Range announced in December last year that it would remove the track, but a petition started two months ago calling for it to be removed remained open and had so far secured 6626 signatures.
A petition to save the track had reached 13,699 signatures yesterday.