The Hastings Development & Environment Committee last week appointed four independent commissioners to hear submissions on proposed Ocean Beach development.

Hearing dates from October 28 through November 19, 2008 have been set aside.

The commissioners will be:

  1. Doug Arcus (Chairman, with a casting vote) — solicitor with 40+ years experience specialising in Environmental Law. Also served as Chair of panel that considered HDC’s large-format retail hearing in 2005.
  2. Alan Watson — a 30+ year planner who also sat on the large-format retail hearing. More recently has chaired hearings for HDC on the Northern Arterial Road and on Percival Road/Sports Park (where a decision is expected this week). He also acted as a sole commissioner on the Ngatarawa/HB Golf Club resource consent, where his decision favoring the development was recently overturned by the Environment Court.
  3. Rauru Kirikiri — a consultant on Maori issues to several government ministries and agencies (Foreign Affairs and Trade, Maori Affairs, State Services, Landcare Research). Locally, Mr. Kirikiri has acted as a commissioner for the HB Regional Council and for the HDC panel on the Northern Arterial Road.
  4. Mary Buckland — with 30 years experience as a landscape architect, she has been responsible for a number of coastal landscape assessments, predominantly in the Auckland region but also in the Marlborough Sounds. Ms. Buckland has not acted as a hearings commissioner for HDC, but was engaged by Council to peer review landscape evidence related to the Unison windfarm hearing.

Officially Plan Change 45, the proposal envisioned by Andy Lowe’s Hill Country would involve construction of more than 1,000 homes and associated infrastructure at Ocean Beach.

Plan Change 45 drew 208 submissions … only 23 supported the planned development. MWH Consultants have been tasked with independently assessing the application on behalf of Hastings Council and preparing the hearings report required by the Resource Management Act.

As we previously reported, Hill Country has been quite busy itself out at Ocean Beach, constructing an extensive network of roads on the land at issue, including land in a “Rural Conservation Zone” that under their own proposal is supposed to be protected from development.

While the Ocean Beach matter is beyond the formal reach of HDC for the time being, we find it remarkable that Councillors haven’t expressed the slightest concern over Andy Lowe’s roadworks, given the sensitivities over the area.

Meantime, the next thing to watch for is MHW’s report on the private plan change application and submissions.


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  1. Thank you once again Bay Buzz for being such an informative vehicle for all of us here in the Bay and wider on such important issues.

    Bring on the hearings! I can't wait to listen and see the puppets wheeled in on call to tell their rehearsed lies.

    Don't go there Baybuzz with the road track issues outta sight outta mind….

    Keep the good work up


  2. Just as an aside – – – – has anyone had a look at the new Andy Lowe roading since the recent storm events ? My guess is that there will be quite extensive slipping.

    Just a thought – – – –

  3. Thanks for the latest information – to my uneducated eyes the appointment of 'Independent Commissioners' leans heavily on a very liberal interpretation of the word 'Independent' when applied to people who have such close links to earlier Council activity which seems to have had their endorsement.

    Call me old fashioned but to this rate/tax payer the opportunity for

    true 'Independence' in a case such as this would have been readily available outside of the coterie of HDC's favoured few.

    I am involved with the Havelock North Citizens group who are taking court action over building consents issued by the HDC and so have a view of the activity of this council which is unfortunately clouded with suspicion these days given the experience we have had with them.

    Keep up the good work – the great majority of our community seem somewhat blind to what is happening around them and a voice such as Bay Buzz is something of a beacon.

  4. Just wanted to pass on my support for what you are doing. Often you feel like you are hitting a brick wall, but if you persevere that brick wall will one day crumble. All the people (and wildlife) of New Zealand should enjoy the natural beauty of Ocean beach and not have it spoilt by man made obstructions.

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