We are often contacted by readers of this column and the recent five page letter outlining the eighteen year history of a rezoning application is a story worth telling.

The story starts back in 1994 when landowners were approached by the local government to link three subdivisions in the area on land that was unviable for commercial agricultural purposes.  Many thousands of dollars later a plan was developed and they were assured that rezoning would occur when the planning strategy and development plan was finalised by the council.  When the strategy was advertised, their property had been excluded based on the belief that too much land had been identified for subdivision in the area.

The project bounced around for some time until the case was heard in the State Administrative Tribunal and there was tentative agreement that, with council support, the 79 hectare property could be divided into 15 rural residential lots.   Council did indeed support the plan but the road widths were non-compliant so it was back to the drafting board for a new plan.  Council supported the new plan but only if agreement was made to pay cash in lieu of public open space (remembering these are large rural residential lots).

The plan was finally advertised with only one objection received.  It was then sent for assessment in relation to environmental matters where they were told that if they gave forty percent to the relevant government agency and placed a conservation covenant over a further twenty percent then it would be able to proceed without further detailed environmental studies.  Eight months and a couple of meetings later they sought senior intervention and the project made it through that hurdle.

The land had not yet been rezoned but the process had reduced the number of lots on the 79 hectare property from eighteen to fifteen then to eight and was finally rezoned to four rural living lots.

According to the land owner the property will now languish in “unproductive, unaffordable and unmanageable 20 hectare lots.”  Sadly, instead of preserving the remnant native bush, the land is likely to be used for small scale grazing, the major contributor to the existing deterioration.

The point of this story is not whether the land should be developed; we don’t have enough information to judge, rather to highlight the uncertainty of the development process and the cost which left this older couple “financially embarrassed.”