13 Sep 2018

Council to allow work on coastal properties

6:34 pm on 13 September 2018

Christchurch City Council has admitted a clause in the District Plan barring coastal residents from renovating or building on their land was a mistake.

But fixing the Plan won't be a simple matter.

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Photo: RNZ / Logan Church

The District Plan says developing or using any land under threat from rising sea levels or flooding should be avoided.

But residents say a key clause exempting single residential property owners has been left out - and that's costing them tens of thousands of dollars and a lot of stress.

Some have even accused council staff of deliberately removing the clause.

At this morning's meeting, Christchurch Coastal Residents United's Warwick Schaffer told councillors the community was stagnating because they could not build.

Mr Schaffer said many residents had stories of severe loss.

The mistake in the plan has cost some residents more than $20,000 that they would never be able to get back and a lot of stress, he said.

A notice of motion was raised by councillor Yani Johanson to amend the plan so residential developments can go ahead if risks to people's safety and property can be mitigated.

"It's quite clear that there was an intention of the hearings panel to have a policy to enable development provided mitigation could be put in place and that hasn't translated into a final district plan," Cr Johanson said.

There were cheers in the council chambers when the Christchurch City Council voted unanimously to change the district plan.

But then the issue became - what's the next step?

Earlier this week, Mayor Lianne Dalziel told residents she would take steps to make sure the exemption was re-inserted.

But today she said there was no process to change the district plan.

"We can't amend our district plan, even to correct it, we don't have the power to do that," Mayor Dalziel said.

One thing was clear - councillors wanted the plan to be changed to reflect the intentions of a panel held for the plan, she said.

But it isn't going to be fixed overnight.

"The Independent Hearings Panel did not want carte-blanche development in these areas, in fact they explicitly excluded subdivisions," she said.

That was not meant to include building single residential properties.

Councillor David East is facing disciplinary action after accusing council planning staff of removing the key clause in the first place.

He said residents have suffered acutely and could themselves have a case for legal action against the council.

The council is expecting an answer about what's the next step within two weeks.