The last opportunity to pass a Special Housing Accord (SHA) development in Tasman (before the Government change the rules) was turned down recently. Unfortunately, this was the only SHA where the developer was making some attempt to provide affordable housing.
The developer, the owner of a building company, was having trouble attracting staff because of the high cost of housing. A problem many other businesses in Tasman are facing. This started him on a journey of coming up with a development strategy to address the problem. He had a list of covenants to ensure that the houses would be cheaper and get into the hands of the right people. Covenants like no land sold to housing development companies but only to owner occupiers, a maximum size house rather than a minimum, not for resale for at least 3 years.
The land was about three hectares on the main road of hope – surrounded by houses. Services are already supplied to the gate with capacity for the proposed development.
It sounds like a no-brainer. Unfortunately, brains are not a prerequisite of councillors and sometimes I think that those who turn up definitely fit in the no-brainer category. This day was one of those days as the application was turned down for submission to the crown.
ABSENT Ogilvie, Hawkes
Arguments against the proposal varied from “it was sprung on us, we didn’t have time to properly consider it” to “it is rural one land and we must protect it.” These sound like valid arguments except for the fact that earlier in our term we were presented with and passed about a dozen SHA applications in one meeting with literally thousands of pages of accompanying literature. We had no time to digest them. The recent applicant, however, had emailed councillors months prior canvassing the idea and asking for our thoughts on the development. Obviously, some councillors don’t read emails.
This development lies in land currently zoned rural, however, it is too small to be profitable for most agricultural applications. It is highly likely there would be an influx of complaints to council from their neighbours if they decided to farm it in a manner that might be profitable: too much noise, we are getting spray drift, or there is too much dust.
One Councillor suggested afterwards that they might put glass houses on their land to make it more profitable. A person could put glass houses on the Richmond mall carpark – prime horticulture land is not required for that.
Incidentally, the majority of those councillors who voted against this proposal were the ones that voted in favour of developing vast tracts of rural zoned land in lower Queen Street. Land that was prime horticulture land. Land that is located directly across the road from the region’s heavy industry. Land that we are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars providing infrastructure to.
Where were the concerns of those Councillors that day?
In the Council meeting on Thursday 9.05.19, we began to see the impact of over-committing our budget on the Waimea Dam. The Engineering department are coming to us with a work program that is about 30% under delivered on. Projects that they are currently trying to complete have contractor quotes greatly in excess of the budgets allocated.
Previously, when faced with a budget deficit staff come to the Council table and ask for more money. But now they must come to us with projects that they wish to drop or delay to cross allocate the funding because the Council is projected to hit the $200 million debt cap ceiling.
It is bad enough that people who have been waiting for years to get infrastructure upgrades, or to get infrastructure supplied, are now finding that the wait is not over. However, it is particularly irksome when three weeks prior the Mayor was visiting various communities telling them that we do not have to consult on the Annual Plan this year because we are not deviating significantly from the Long-Term Plan. He also outlined the program of works that the area would be getting in the current financial year.
It is unlikely that events developed so quickly in the three weeks between our Annual Plan presentations and the Full Council meeting where we received the list of projects being canned that it was a surprise to staff.
But that did not stop staff providing a list of works to be done (that were not going to be done) for presentation to the ratepayers in our district meetings. Therefore, the feedback that we went out to seek was irrelevant because it was not based on the facts. Money well spent.
Twelve months ago the Mayor was doing the same Annual Plan tour suggesting that there would be two consultations on the dam, at the time knowing full well that we would only have time for one consultation.
Why do we present to our community when we cannot present the current reality?
This kind of behaviour must stop.
It is no wonder our ratepayers do not trust a word that we say. These are the kind of examples that provoke me to campaign for a more accountable Council.