A coastal Hawke's Bay subdivision that includes homes atop a 2.6 metre high mound to stop houses being inundated by the sea has neighbours up in arms.
Greenstone Land Developments is building a 45-section development on Clifton Rd in the beachside town of Te Awanga, 15 to 20 minutes from Hastings.
But Hastings District Council would only give a resource consent to "Te Awanga Downs" if the land would be raised to be 5.15m above the average sea level in the area.
Three sections at the front of the site had to be raised 2.6m and earthmovers have recently arrived to construct the mound on which the houses will sit.
Greenstone Land Developments director Tim Wilkins said the subdivision is designed for the future, ensuring the houses are not affected by rising seas.
"This includes raising the land, as well as being the only houses in Te Awanga to be connected to the Hastings District Council sewer system," he said.
Clearview Estate winery owner Tim Turvey is among the residents who have told Hawke's Bay Today the "bizarre" raised development doesn't fit with the existing properties in flat and "quiet, little old Te Awanga".
"Most people had resigned to the fact there was going to be a subdivision, but nobody knew about the Mt Everest with the houses perched on top," he said.
"The whole of the community is up in arms about it – and all the houses are covered in dust inside and out from the massive amounts of earth they've moved."
Council environmental consents manager Caleb Sutton said as the site is close to the coast, it is subject to coastal hazards and flooding.
"To mitigate the hazards, the development is required to meet minimum ground levels and finished floor levels for homes on the sections to be created," he said.
"As a result the subdivision includes earthworks - including raising of land - to create building platforms that are above the 100-year coastal inundation level."
Clifton Rd resident Jen Ormond said the community had already been disrupted by the development for months and weren't consulted by the council.
"We've had trucks and diggers up and down the road - the noise starts at 7am and the houses shake when the compactors come in," she said.
Ormond said locals were led to believe a 30m greenbelt would be put between Clifton Rd and the development.
"This is not the case and the properties are right on my doorstep and will look down into my backyard as a result," she said.
"It's not the Te Awanga we want and the one we've had forever – it will completely change the character of this sleepy New Zealand town completely."
The council said the subdivision was subject to conditions that included planting trees and shrubs to reach 3m in height within 10 years and fencing between the development and the adjoining vineyard.
Wilkins said the land was proposed to be rezoned residential because of residential growth in Hastings, as indicated by the Heretaunga Plains Urban Development Strategy, as part of the HDC District Plan Review in 2016.
"Some residents appealed the decision to the Environment Court, but after mediation approval was granted to rezone the land."
He noted the development included giving 4 hectares for a reserve, and extensive planting would add amenity value to the Te Awanga area.
"We are in the process of working with our neighbour to work up a suitable planting plan."
He said Hawke's Bay was short on residential sections.
"We have had strong interest in the sections and expect to be able to have these available to the market from May. "