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Red tape frustrates

Greytown builder Jeremy Long feels like he has hit a “brick wall” in his consent process with South Wairarapa District Council.” PHOTO/MARCUS ANSELM


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A Greytown builder has voiced his frustrations over red tape after a plan to build a granny flat for his elderly mother-in-law hit a “brick wall”.

Jeremy Long said the rejection of his consent application made to South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC] for an extension to his home showed inconsistencies with properties close by.

Long, who grew up in Wairarapa, and his family had moved back earlier this year to live with his mother-in-law.

He had, through a resource management consultant, asked for permission to build extra living space so she could live independently.

He said it had been architecturally designed, had full approval from neighbours, and in his opinion “does not come close to exceeding the land/building limit”.

He said he used a consultant, who had worked with SWDC frequently, due to his home’s zoning.

The property is designated by SWDC as ‘special rural’, because of its location and proximity to the flood zone. Homes in the area provide their own water and sewerage system.

Long said his application was immediately rejected, as it had a “second kitchen [kitchenette], [so] they will not even look at it”.

He said that an exact interpretation of the district plan, with no exceptions, had been made.

“Except of course the many exceptions that have already been granted to people we know with small granny flats – which is my point.

“The purpose of the Resource Management Act [RMA] is to ensure any developments are environmentally sound and in keeping with district guidelines.

“The purpose of an application is to provide assurances that this will not impact on either of those things. The purpose of a council it seems is to simply say ‘computer says no’.”

Long said he supported changes to the Resource Management Act [RMA], “or at least change in the haphazard interpretation of it from officious council officers”.

He had even considered moving districts as a last resort, but said it would be a shame to move his family out of the town, as they had lived there for generations.

SWDC group manager for planning and environment Russell O’Leary said the application in question was “currently in the process of being assessed with no outcome reached, but has involved discussions with the applicant’s consultant planner”.

“The District Plan exists to protect people, the environment and the special character of our district. The team aims to treat all applications fairly, according to the zoning policy and rules.

“SWDC planners are happy to discuss the specifics of any application with the applicant, or their agent.”

Long said his consultant had already discussed the issue a number of times since it was raised.

“It just seems that response is all very well, but the person replying to our application has just said, ‘there’s a second kitchen, we’re turning it down’.”

He said he would welcome a positive outcome, but said he may contact council staff and elected officials on the matter.


Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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