Residents of a small town in Canterbury set to almost double in size plan to take their fight against a controversial housing development to court.
Last month, Selwyn district councillors approved a plan change to rezone 186 hectares of rural land outside Lincoln to residential land, nearly doubling it in size.
Rolleston Industrial Developments – owned by the Carter Group’s Philip and Tim Carter – first applied for the plan change to create a 2000-lot subdivision in late 2020. That number was later revised to 1710 lots.
Last month independent commissioner David Caldwell gave the development his stamp of approval, and recommended the council approve the plan change.
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Independent commissioners sit through hearings and listen to all the evidence on a topic, and councils which vote against their recommendations open themselves up to the risk of severe legal proceedings.
But on Thursday, Lincoln Voice – a group of concerned residents – announced they were launching an Environment Court appeal against the Selwyn District Council’s decision to rezone the land.
The group has launched a Givealittle page to cover legal costs, which as of Thursday evening had raised more than $6200.
A spokesperson said while locals had a number of concerns – including a lack of roading, education, and healthcare infrastructure to support a development of this size – their primary objection was the “irreversible loss of productive land”.
Soil scientists say at least half the lot is made up of highly productive farmland – which councils will soon be required to protect under a new National Policy Statement (NPS) Cabinet is expected to finalise late this month – after years of Covid-19 delays.
“[Highly productive land] is considered a national strategic asset. It is rare, and our current and future food security relies on it.”
Developments needed to be thoughtful and planned, they said, and take a long-term view of “how will we all feed the future and have thriving communities”.
Lincoln Voice expected the case to be a test of the recently-enacted NPS for Urban Development – which required councils to consider private plan change requests – with possible implications for councils and communities across New Zealand.
Developer Tim Carter previously told Stuff they were “delighted” council had accepted the commissioner’s recommendation to rezone the Lincoln South development.
It would be a “master-plan development”, he said, and the future expansion of Lincoln would be done in a co-ordinated and planned way.
“It will include numerous walkways and cycleways.
“It will also include three commercial centres, and we acknowledge the community’s desire for a medical centre and a supermarket. We have already met with the Ministry of Education as we understand the need for future schools in the area.”
Carter said there was a huge shortage of residential sections in Lincoln and Selwyn as a whole, and they have already had more than 300 registrations of interest in sections.
“It is important to us that this development maintains Lincoln’s character and rural feel and incorporates the feedback and desires of the local community.”
Earlier this year, the Selwyn District Council shot down a similar application by the Carter Group to build 2100 new homes in nearby Rolleston, which they are set to appeal in the Environment Court.
The Carter Group has another rezoning application under consideration in North Canterbury’s Ohoka, to create an 800-home subdivision.
It is also facing fierce opposition, including from the Waimakariri District Council, with local MP Matt Doocey holding a drop-in session at Ohoka Hall on Friday, so people can share their views.