Environment Waikato and Thames-Coromandel District Council are applauding the efforts being made by a developer to ensure a proposed Coromandel beachside residential development doesn’t detract from the natural character of the area.
The proposal for an extensive development at New Chums Beach near Whangapoua has come from Queenstown-based Coastal Land Trust Holdings.
EW and TCDC have been in discussions with the company for several years with a view to the company putting up a development proposal that may satisfy TCDC’s requirements for granting resource consent.
In a letter to the company, EW chairman Peter Buckley and TCDC Mayor Philippa Barriball have given their “general support” for the development plans at New Chums and the surrounding property, acknowledging the cooperative manner in which the proposal has developed.
“Our councils greatly appreciate the collaborative approach you and your partners have taken,” Cr Buckley and Mayor Barriball said.
They noted that all development proposals would obviously have to go through the normal Resource Management Act review process and that their comments were separate from that.
“Nevertheless, we support the considerable effort you have made to minimise the impact of development on the landscape and environment of New Chums.”
Cr Buckley and Mayor Barriball said councils generally had not worked closely with developers before resource consent applications were filed.
“In this case, however, we thought that securing the special character of New Chums for future generations warranted this extraordinary approach. Our regulatory responsibilities must still be carried out of course, and we anticipate appointing outside commissioners to process all RMA related consents.”
EW and TCDC have been “extremely concerned” that any development at New Chums should not detract from the “very special experience” the beach offers.
Although close to Whangapoua, the beach has a rare “desert island” feel and a unique character that saw it named as one of the top 20 beaches in the world in 2006 by The Observer newspaper, Cr Buckley and Mayor Barriball said.
The councils’ main concerns were that:
1. the natural character of the beach should not be lost by the way houses are placed, and that no houses should be seen from the beach
2. public access to and use of the beach be guaranteed
3. the valuable native vegetation on the property be protected .
“We believe your team has worked hard to ensure these concerns were addressed,” the letter to Coastal Land Trust Holdings said.
“We note that more than 80 percent of the site would be kept free from development, re-vegetated and protected by covenants. Public use of the beach will be assured through an esplanade reserve and the visually impressive coastal escarpment behind the beach will be protected through a covenant.”
Cr Buckley and Mayor Barriball noted that a number of issues and details needed to be addressed, such as plans for an extra house at the north end of the beach which was not included in the current consent application.
“While we would prefer that all development affecting New Chums be progressed at once, we also understand that the design of this one site has not been completed. We have your assurance that it will not be visible from the beach. In this case (and for other sites as well) the effective screening by vegetation will require rigorous consent conditions and possibly financial bonding.”
These details and other issues would need to be confirmed before the regulatory process was complete, the letter said. “Nevertheless, we believe your team has prepared an innovative proposal that is sensitive to the values of this special place and beneficial to the community at large.”