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The fight over Ocean Beach

Published: 8:52PM Monday March 13, 2006 Source: Close Up

Ocean Beach in the Hawke's Bay is a beautiful, reasonably isolated piece of paradise.

It is also one of a number of communities around New Zealand where the locals, the council and developers are pitted against each other over the future of the area.

The fight over our coastline made headlines last week when Conservation Minister Chris Carter intervened to veto the Whangamata marina. Following that decision Carter announced that the government will review policy's on coastal development.

He said the guidelines councils use to decide what activities would be allowed in coastal areas are outdated and need to take into account increasing pressures to develop on the coastline.

If developer's in the Hawke's Bay have their way 32 baches at Ocean Beach will become a town of 540 homes. But locals want to fight.

"It's really important that these sorts of areas are protected. We can't stand back and say hell we could have done something and we didn't," says objector Bruno Chambers.

Locals are directing their anger at the council for spending $200,000 on an initial consultation, or charette, with what it called all affected parties.

Now Close Up has obtained documents detailing a contract between the council and developers.

Amongst other things the documents says the council will pay for a road which passes across Maori land and onto the developers' land. If the council doesn't do that the council has to pay the developer a sum of money.

Hastings District Mayor Lawrence Yule says the council never tried to hide the documents. He says they were secret initially, but have now been released.

Yule says the contract was a request to lodge a plan change, which never happened as they were conditional on getting access through the Maori land.

"We haven't got access to the land, because we haven't got road access. So there is no deal," Yule told Close Up.

He doesn't believe the public needed to know about the deal as it wasn't material to what the council was trying to do.

The mayor told Close Up the contract is a live document, despite earlier saying the documents were null and void.

See the related video for the full story...

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