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Published: 2012-06-28 00:00:00

Waikato Regional Council has today confirmed its commitment to having public access and natural character protected at New Chums Beach on the Coromandel Peninsula.

The community group Preserve New Chum for Everyone has requested support from the regional council and Thames-Coromandel District Council (TCDC) to help preserve the beach near Whangapoua.

The group has signalled its preferred option is for the land to be purchased and designated as a recreational reserve. However, the regional council today said there was no money on the table and it was too early to judge what would be the best way to protect the values that are important to the public.

The advocacy group’s suggestion follows a late 2010 proposal for 21 house sites across the New Chums property, with about 80 per cent of the property being kept free from development, and planted and protected by covenants. Public use of the beach was to be assured.

However, the owners have signalled they intend submitting a revised resource consent application before the end of next month.

During today’s meeting, council chief executive Bob Laing said: “From the point of view of the new application, we can submit and put forward the values we want to see protected in line with our policies. That should go a long way toward protecting the interests of those who want to see the natural values of New Chums protected.”

The council confirmed its support for an approach that will protect the public values associated with New Chums Beach, including appropriate public access and retaining the beach’s undeveloped character.

The council also signalled it would work with TCDC, the landowners, iwi, the Crown and interested community members through participation in the Resource Management Act process, rather than purchase the land.

The council also heard that New Chums Beach and some of the surrounding bush has been designated a significant natural area (SNA) in the proposed Regional Policy Statement.

While TCDC has not confirmed how SNAs will be treated in its district plan, consideration of any consent application is likely to take this into account.