Kiwifruit decision to be appealed

Independent commissioner Alan Withy hears from expert witness Joanna Soanes, third left, at last month’s resource consent hearing.

A second controversial decision made by a Waipā District Council independent commissioner in favour of several hectares of kiwifruit shelter belts in Parallel Road is to be appealed.

Alan Withy last week granted two applications from Kiwifruit Investments Ltd which will result in rows of six metre high kiwifruit cloth structures and shelterbelt planting on 35ha at 582 Parallel Road.

Nick Jennings, who opposed the application and is surrounded on three sides of his lifestyle property by cloth shelters and planting, said he would go to the “highest court in the land” to get the decision overturned.

“I’m going to fight this all the way. Do the council want the whole of Waipā covered in shelter cloth?”

Withy said in his decision “the occupiers of what is a relatively small property in a rural area should expect neighbouring land to be developed and used for purposes as proposed in the applications”.

“I’m going to fight this all the way.”

Two kilometres down the road on 69ha at 383 Parallel Road, neighbours have filed a judicial review application against a similar Withy decision made last August.

That decision for GDP Orchards Ltd will be the subject of a High Court hearing on May 13.

Jennings, who said he had already spent $80,000 fighting the application including $32,000 for the day long resource consent hearing before Withy last month, said the decision made a mockery of the Waipā District Plan.

In both instances, the applicant applied for retrospective consent – meaning they had already built the structures and planted the shelterbelts.

Parmvir Singh Bains, who owns Kiwifruit Investments at 582 Parallel Road and manages the property at 383 Parallel Road, said in his written evidence to the hearing that he did not know he had to apply for a resource consent.

Nick Jennings

Jennings said approving retrospective applications seemed wrong and Withy had gone against the advice of landscape architect Joanna Soanes.

Soanes, in her evidence, said the minimal setbacks, height of the structures, large site coverage and shelterbelt planting, had the potential to create an adverse visual effect for the Jennings property.

“To me that’s the biggest problem with this decision. He (Withy) has completely dismissed the only truly professional opinion,” said Jennings.

“It’s like someone who is not a surgeon but has a surgeon beside him at the operating table, taking the scalpel and saying ‘I can do this myself.’ It’s outrageous.”

The council uses independent commissioners when planning staff do not have delegated authority to make a decision on notified applications where submissions have been lodged in opposition.

Council’s approved commissioner pool, in addition to Withy, is Phil Mitchell, Greg Hill, Helen Atkins, Michael Lester, Richard Knott, Rob Van Voorthuysen, Sheena Te Pania, Simon Berry, Steven Wilson and Tara Hills.

In his decision on the Jennings opposition, Withy said on his two site visits he saw planting – “albeit spasmodic in some places” – around all sides of the Jennings property which gave them a level of privacy from the kiwifruit activities.

The structures and planting were reasonable taking into account it was a rural area where kiwifruit, with structures and planting, might be expected.

The submitters should not expect the level of privacy and amenities as might be expected in a residential neighbourhood, said Withy.

Conditions proposed and accepted by the applicant were appropriate in all the circumstances and should give a reasonable level of protection to the submitter’s property, he said.

Read: Kiwifruit decision 582 Parallel Road, Cambridge

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