'Elitist' gated-community for over-55s in Napier approved against council's wishes – Stuff.co.nz

A proposed gated-community in Napier that the local council says would “foster elitism and social inequality” has been approved by an independent commissioner.
Durham Property Investments Limited applied in January 2019 for resource consent from Napier City Council to build a 162-dwelling gated ‘’lifestyle village’’ targetted at retirees aged over 55 on a 13.8 hectare site at Te Awa, at the southern edge of Napier city.
The application, which also includes 19 other road frontage sections outside the development, was notified late last year. Three submissions were received. Only one opposed it: Hawke’s Bay Regional Council was concerned about tsunami risk but withdrew opposition when developers agreed to prepare an emergency/hazard management plan.
Napier City Council opposed the application for various reasons. Mainly it was concerned that roads and three-waters infrastructure inside the subdivision would be privately owned by a Residents’ Society. Other concerns included how access could be gained for refuse collection, postal delivery and emergency services, plus if the development would set a precedent that “directly challenged” the intended development under the District Plan.
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And the council didn’t like the idea that there would be gates across the subdivision’s two entryways, which would be closed to the public overnight.
The application was heard by independent commissioner Janeen Kydd-Smith in May.
A director of the company, Phillip Palmer, said it wanted to “contribute desirable, attractive, and low maintenance housing designed specifically for the intended target market (55yrs+)”.
The development would offer an alternative to ‘’licence to occupy’’ retirement villages, and residents would own their house and section and would receive full capital gain, Palmer said.
Gated developments were common in New Zealand and gating of the proposed development in the evening was no different to retirement villages or apartment complexes, he said.
All purchasers would be required to be members of the Residents’ Society, which would set the rules for the development regarding parking, noise control, the keeping of animals, etc, as well as maintaining roads and infrastructure to council standard.
Lawyer Sue Simons, acting for the company, told the commissioner that the real reason the council was opposed to the proposal had nothing to do with the Resource Management Act and was due to the council’s perceived adverse ‘’social concerns’’ arising from the proposed ‘’gated community’’ development.
She referred to the council’s claims around “segregation of communities; isolation of individuals; fostering of elitism; and/or a contribution to social inequality”, but noted none of these concerns were raised in the three submissions. She urged Kydd-Smith to disregard any consideration of those issues.
The council said it was concerned that the Residents’ Society was unlike a Body Corporate which was regulated by statute. The proposed society could dissolve itself at any time and the council could be left to chase individual owners for any money owed.
It also questioned whether the members would have the expertise and competence to maintain the infrastructure, and that could lead to environmental degradation.
Kydd-Smith found there was no evidence that there would be significant adverse effects provided the Residents’ Society complied with all conditions.
She also found that hazards, including liquefaction, could be mitigated through consent conditions, and that overall the application was consistent with the Resource Management Act.
She granted the application last month with a list of conditions.
The company has appealed some of those conditions to the Environment Court.
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