Submissions closed today for the controversial rezoning of part of Curtis Street, which lies in the valley between Northland and Karori below the wildlife sanctuary of Zealandia. The Kaiwhawhara Stream runs along the valley between Zealandia and the Otari-Wilton Reserve before it runs into Wellington Harbour.
Wellington City Council failed in an earlier bid to rezone the land when the Creswick Valley Residents’ Association won a Judicial Review in the High Court after successfully claiming that the Council had been wrong in their approach to the re-zoning and that the Council favoured the property-owner to the detriment of the general public.
The Council is now trying to rezone land designated as Open Space & Residential as suitable for “virtually unrestricted commercial & indusrtrial development” says former Regional Councillor, Michael Gibson, who has lived for nearly forty years overlooking both Zealandia & the Valley.
He says that many submitters have been courteous enough to send him a copy of their submissions and they all want the Council’s proposal to be withdrawn.
He has been struck by the “great concern” which has been expressed about the “excellent environmental & other arguments against rezoning” but also about the way in which the Council has again tried to rezone the land.
“I think that it is disgraceful that the Council decided to do this in Public Excluded Business following threats of legal action by the property-owner. It is no way for a public body like the Wellington City Council to carry out a serious statutory function and cause so many people to make submissions when the matter has already been prejudiced,” he says.
Mr Gibson says that other examples of Council bias include the pictorial photograph of the site in the Public Notice. “This showed only the run-down part of the site which is zoned Residential & failed to show the part zoned Open Space.” He also says that officers failed to tell elected members that supermarkets and related activities were forbidden on the site but “the Council resolved to get everybody to comment on supermarkets without telling the public about the supermarket covenant. This is totally unfair,” he says.
Having read several submissions Mr Gibson has asked the Council to withdraw its proposal because of the problems caused by its bias “in an important Planning matter where the Council is meant to be objective.”
Mr Gibson says that he is not a member of the Residents’ Association “just a fervent supporter – they are brilliant and incredibly skilled professional people who have had to sacrifice a lot in order to combat the wiles of the Council.”
The Association has just had a settlement of the costs which were awarded to it by the High Court. This includes “$60,000 of ratepayers’ money on top of the Council’s own already publicised costs of $100,000. This is in addition to the $8,500 awarded against the property-owner, Prime Property, for their part in the last debacle,” says Mr Gibson.