Annie and Dave Evans told their experience of wanting to build housing on the road for eight years in a hope that processes will change in the future. Photo / Warren Buckland
Call it the Raymond Rd revolt.
Landowners on what has become a Haumoana flashpoint are drawing a line in the sand over what they say is an inappropriate line in the land.
All after the
Hastings District Council and Environment Court put a line through their request to subdivide on land zoned “production” and said “sorry, it’s not happening”.
Raymond Rd is home to a school, a kindergarten and a handful of houses, many with a lot of land.
Its residents argue that the land on both sides of Raymond Rd is the same – so therefore they should be able to build on both sides of the road, particularly when there is a housing crisis.
The Hastings District Council, backed by the Environment Court, says the undeveloped Raymond Rd land is zoned production. No building, sorry.
Hastings District Council group manager planning and regulatory services John O’Shaughnessy said the plains production zone recognises the versatile land in the district, which is more than just soil values.
It had been zoned as plains for “many decades right back to the time that it was administered by the Hawke’s Bay County Council”, he said.
“The key to [the north side of Raymond Rd’s] productivity is its ability to be flexible into the future for changing productive uses.”
“The evidence presented to, and accepted by, the Environment Court showed that it can be used for growing.”
Its residents say it could be an ideal place to build more housing given its proximity to the school and urban centres.
Annie and Dave Evans fought for eight years to subdivide their land for self-sufficient housing, alongside other road residents, by seeking a zone change.
But the Environment Court sided with Hastings District Council at every turn.
The Evans’ say they’ve watched as the region’s housing crisis has spiralled, scratching their heads.
They’ve all-but given up on Raymond Rd’s future, but this week gave the council one final piece of their minds about the process they’ve been through at its long-term plan submissions.
“The naked eye tells you that there is no physical difference between the two sides of Raymond Road. Zoning tells you otherwise,” Annie Evans said speaking to her submission.
“Both sides of the road sit on the same marine uplift, with associated soil structures including that of an undulating hard pan.
“We assume for pure convenience, that Raymond Rd was used as a demarcation between zones.
“This land is not the same, either in soil classification or in topography, as the low-lying fertile plains below.”
Twenty one years ago the Evans’ took over an apple orchard which people had attempted to grow productive fruit on for 40 years.
They found the trees had root rot.
The land was “completely unsuccessful, uneconomic” and “wasn’t commercially viable”.
Annie Evans says Raymond Rd is a flashpoint for council stubbornness, and neighbours have faced similar situations.
“There is a lot of land like ours on the fringes of the plains that has been zoned incorrectly.”
The rezone submission failed and it was suggested they submit to the Heretaunga Plains Urban Development Strategy (HPUDS) review.
“The aim for us all, was to enable small-scale, sustainably managed, housing development,” she said.
They then went through the resource consent process to subdivide their land for housing, which was rejected. They lost a council hearing, then a commissioner’s hearing.
At the commissioner’s hearing the Evans’ brought in a soil scientist who Annie said “provided undeniable evidence” showing their soils did not meet the criteria of plains production land.
Council brought in an irrigation specialist who said the effects of poor soil could be mitigated by mounding the land – digging out the soil, creating rows with mounds, and plant into these, she said.
Evans felt this was “ecological insanity” but the commissioner decided in favour of the council. An appeal to the Environment Court was also dismissed in 2020.
Hastings District Council’s O’Shaughnessy said the land on the south side of Raymond Rd was rezoned in 2007 through a private plan change request and the hearings commissioners “accepted that on balance rural lifestyle was an appropriate land use to meet a demonstrated need at that time”.
Council has no plans to rezone the land, but landowners can put their proposal forward for consideration as a future growth area spatial planning process which will start later this year, O’Shaughnessy said.
“It is noted that the Environment Court found that the land is versatile and that it should not be set apart from other land in the plains production zone.”
Evans said they won’t be personally progressing the issue further, but feels she has to speak about what they’ve been through.
“This is land that should be made available for housing – surely they need to be open to that when there is such a lack of good land available or housing?
“Yes, it might mean a rezone, yes it might mean that it’s out of the current plans and policies … but why can’t you be reasonable, why do you fight this at any cost?”
She said they now hoped that council processes would change, there would be more open-mindedness, and a culture of co-operation, instead of “outdated zoning or incorrect zoning” being stuck to.