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Published: 2003-03-13 00:00:00

Environment Waikato is backing Thames Coromandel District Council’s defence of an appeal to the Environment Court from developers wanting to build on the foreshore at the Coromandel resort of Hahei.

This week’s Regional Council Policy Committee heard that developers were appealing a decision by the District Council to reject an application to re-zone an area in front of the Hahei camping ground from Open Space to a Coastal Village Policy Area.

The change would allow buildings up to eight metres in height to be erected in the area up to setback lines identified within the Proposed District Plan. Environment Waikato has recommended the setback lines on the coast to reduce risk within hazard areas, and the District Council takes the information into account in its planning.

Environment Waikato was told about the appeal by the solicitor representing residents of neighbouring properties.

Policy Committee chairman Evan Penny said the natural character of the coast was being changed “creep by creep”.

“One creep today is permanent. At Waikiki in Hawaii there was a time when you couldn’t get to the beach except through the lobby of a hotel. How natural is that?”

Cr Andra Neeley said the case was an opportunity to give effect to what Environment Waikato had done in setting the setback lines. The Regional Council could support the District Council at the Environment Court in ensuring there was no change in zoning from ‘undeveloped’ to ‘developed’, which would allow large buildings along the beach front.

A similar situation existed at Kennedy Bay where a draft variation (change) was being notified to the Proposed District Plan to change from open space to village zoning.

Part of the area under consideration extends onto the spit at Harataunga East, identified by Environment Waikato as an island and outside the undeveloped setback line.

The Committee said staff would assist the District Council in planning for this area, taking into account natural hazards such as coastal erosion.