Curtis St Rezoning

The site at 55-85 Curtis Street, in the Creswick Valley, is a triangular area bounded by Old Karori Road, Whitehead Road and Curtis Street. The area was originally part of the adjoining Council landfill that has become Ian Galloway Park; it was separated from the Park by the construction of Whitehead Road in the 1980s. The Curtis Street site was sold into private ownership in 1999, and at that time was zoned Outer Residential and Open Space B under the then District Plan.

In 2011 the Council re-zoned the land to “Business 2” use, a status that permits large scale industrial activity. At the time, the owner intended to construct a Mitre 10 Mega Store. Local residents were not notified of the change in zoning, so the Creswick Valley Residents’ Association mounted a legal challenge to this decision and won the case. The High Court clarified that the Council acted illegally by not consulting affected residents.

In 2012 the Council proposed a new business area zoning for the site that would create a new commercial centre between Northland and Karori ("District Plan Change 77"). It also granted consent for earthworks which would raise the valley floor by up to 8m almost to the height of Curtis Street for an unspecified future purpose. CVRA and a number of other parties appealed these decisions to the Environment Court. As a result of the case, the Court tightened the controls in place to reduce the environmental effects on the community.

The Environment Court released a final decision on DPC77 and on the resource consents in December 2015.

Decision on DPC77 and Earthworks Consent
The Environment Court released its final decision on the Curtis Street appeals on 7 December 2015.

Read the cover pages of the final decision here..

Read DPC77 here..

See the DPC77 Concept Plan here..

Read the Earthworks Consent and conditions here..


Chronology

The following summarises the chronology of events, and current and background documents.

August 2015: Residents Association welcomes Environment Court decision
Creswick Valley residents welcome the Environment Court decision which provides for increased protection for the site at 55 – 85 Curtis Street.

CVRA spokesperson on the appeals, Wayne Newman said "Tighter controls on access to the site and on subdivision support submissions made by CVRA from the outset of the plan change process. He also welcomed the restoration of a concept plan requirement for the site which will require coordinated planning for any development to ensure that it is in keeping with the surrounding residential area and environment. The use of a Residential Design Guide to ensure compatibility of future development with local surroundings is also a welcome improvement for residents".

"The earthworks consent proposed for the site now involves almost a quarter less fill volume than originally proposed. We are also supportive of a number of additional conditions that had been agreed during the appeals process to limit the impact of the earthworks on the nearby childcare centre and local community", said Mr Newman.

The Environment Court decision provides clarity and certainty for all parties. CVRA and the local community now look forward to being able to work with the Wellington City Council in light of this decision.


June 2015: Environment Court hearing

In June CVRA appeared in the Environment Court to conduct its two appeal cases against District Plan Change 77 and an earthworks resource consent. The cases were heard together by an Environment Court Judge and two Environment Court Commissioners. In addition to appeals by CVRA, the developer (Prime Property Group) and Michael Gibson appealed DPC77, and Kindercare Learning Centre appealed the earthworks resource consent.

The Environment Court hearing has been a very large undertaking by the Association. Special thanks must go to Wayne Newman who led our case and did some superb work getting across all the issues in order to ask probing questions during cross examination. We were well supported by Sheena Bennett, Rod Bryant, Fiona Knight, and Peter Henderson. John Boshier provided sage advice for our summing up. Peter Davenport provided expert engineering advice on some critical issues affecting drainage from the site. The Association paid for a professional planner to provide expert planning advice.


2014: Earthworks Consent Application

In April 2014 Prime Property Group reactivated the earthworks consent application that had been suspended since April 2013. PPG had lodged a resource consent application under the existing residential and open space zoning for earthworks to place 40,000 m3 of fill on the site. At around 7.5 m3 per truck load, the application was for more than 5,000 truck loads of fill. PPG sought a blanket permission to carry out this dumping activity for up to 10 years. As well as the obvious traffic and ecological effects, the earthworks would completely pre-empt any proper consideration of the zoning changes still before the Environment Court.

Council sponsored mediation took place from May to October 2014, until at the beginning of the 5th mediation session, when Prime Property Group withdrew from the process. This was in response to the position of CVRA and other interested parties that acceptance of filling the site to level with Curtis Street could not be a condition for agreement on an amended version of the proposed District Plan Change 77 put forward by the Council.

The application was heard before an Independent Hearing Commissioner on 4 - 6 November 2014. On 3 December 2014 the report of the Commissioner was released, granting approval for the earthworks to proceed subject to 57 conditions being met. The CVRA Committee concluded that, although the consent does provide detailed and specific measures to address issues that were raised by the Association and many others, it fails to address the fundamental fact that the earthworks do not comply with numerous objectives and policies within the District Plan.

For this reason CVRA lodged an appeal against the decision with the Environment Court. CVRA sought to have this appeal heard along with that of DPC77, primarily on the grounds of efficiency for the Court process and in order that the resource management matters on the site be considered in an integrated manner.

CVRA contended that the ecological values identified by the Council's independent technical assessments are not in dispute for the hearing on the plan change. Rather, it was the failure of the Council, in the view of CVRA, to have due regard to those expert assessments and the identified regionally significant values within the valley, that is a central issue for the hearing.


2012- 2103: DPC77

A report on options to change zoning of 55 – 85 Curtis Street was prepared for a full meeting of the WCC Strategic Policy Committee (SPC) on 13 Sep 2012. After review of this paper and various submissions (including one from CVRA), the SPC Committee voted unanimously to adopt the recommendation of the paper, and proceed with a Council led zone change to the Curtis Street site.

Submissions on the proposed plan change closed on 11 March 2013. A total of 65 submissions were received, of which only seven supported the proposal.

CVRA appeared at a hearing before commissioners appointed by the Council in early September 2013. Although the commissioners heard very strong submissions against the proposals, their report to the Council recommended that Plan Change 77 proceed with only superficial alterations.

Plan Change 77 was publicly notified on 14 January 2014. After careful consideration of the Commissioners' Report and the proposed Plan Change as amended by them, CVRA lodged a Notice of Appeal with the Court - which can be viewed here.


2011-2012: High Court case against rezoning

Council rezoned land at 55 to 85 Curtis St from residential and open plan use to “Business 2” use, a status that permits large scale industrial activity. Local residents were not notified of the change.

Why did this matter?

Once rezoned, the land could be used for a wide range of industrial activity; activities which generate significantly higher levels of noise, pollution and traffic than that allowed in residential areas.

Why did we take the council to court?

The council is required by law (the Resource Management Act) to notify affected parties over proposed changes to land use. We do not know why council did not do this for the land at Curtis St – it is likely it was a mistake. We told the council that we had not been informed, and asked that they follow proper process and notify us. They refused to do this, arguing that they were not bound by law to notify residents of such changes. We asked the High Court for their opinion: the judge confirmed that Council must notify residents of changes that directly affect them.

IN THE NEWS

03 May 2012 - Council accepts High Court ruling on Curtis Street, but plans rezoning of site
03 May 2012 - Noise, traffic, pollution, amenity loss: residents concerned about future of valley
03 May 2012 - WCC Strategy & Policy Committee - Resolutions re-High Court decision

05 Apr 2012 - Developer vows to continue with Mitre 10 plan
05 Apr 2012 - Curtis Street Decision: Mayor Responds
05 Apr 2012 - High Court upholds residents’ challenge – council failed to consult on megastore