A Marlborough Sounds property owner who wanted to construct six new yurts on their campsite was met with opposition from a neighbour worried about increased noise and guests not bothering to walk to the bathroom.
That neighbour had bought their Endeavour Inlet property with the intention of it being their “final resting place” in retirement, but claimed there had been no consideration given to their requests for “reasonable peace and quiet”.
But a hearing commissioner has said it’s not their job to resolve matters of a “civil” nature.
The owner of the campground land already had consent for up to 20 campers on the site – which was next to the Queen Charlotte Track where it joins the Antimony Mines track – but wanted to slightly alter the consent.
A decision from independent hearing commissioner Martin Williams from early December said the proposal was to install six new yurt structures, a new kitchen and ablution block and a new on-site wastewater system, along with a pipe crossing an intermittently flowing water course that ran through the site.
While the site had an area of some 5.65ha, camping activities to date had been concentrated in an area of orchard trees and natives established at the south-eastern end of the property, the decision said.
The camping ground had operated for about 17 years, but the 2020 consent increased its numbers from 10 to 20, around the same time the new owners took over.
The decision outlined the main issues raised by the owners of a neighbouring property that opposed the consent application. They were the only people to submit.
This included the continuation of camping in the orchard area, the location of a yurt structure next to the southern boundary and adjoining their property, as well as visual, noise and other amenity concerns that arose from the proposed activities.
The submission said noise and visual impacts would escalate with commercial activity in the area and the yurt construction.
It also argued a lack of toilets in the orchard area would see people relieve themselves there, rather than making what was described as a “long walk” to new toilet facilities on the property.
The neighbours also gave evidence in their submission related to barking dogs, people playing music, children screaming, rubbish and debris in the stream that flowed through the site and inconsiderate behaviour from people using the camping area.
Meanwhile, the bases for five of the proposed new yurts had already been constructed on the site.
One of those bases within the orchard area breached the district plan as it was too close to the front boundary of the property, but Williams accepted this was a genuine mistake.
Williams said there was a considerable element of material put forward in the opposing submission that had little direct relevance under the Resource Management Act, but was instead more appropriately addressed in a civil context, between neighbours.
“What I must focus on are the effects associated with a visitor accommodation facility, being the land use activity that needs resource consent under the Proposed Marlborough Environment Plan,” the decision said.
“Effects which are part and parcel of ordinary residential use of the property are not the key issue, if the issue at all.”
He said there was very little potential for any increased adverse effects to arise from the application at all.
If anything, he thought it would represent an improvement to the existing environment, particularly the dedicated kitchen and ablution facilities serviced by a compliant wastewater treatment facility.
And, the yurt facilities would direct the concentration of camping activity to the north and outside of the orchard area.
“The submitters’ request being that all camping and accommodation be removed from the orchard area is quite untenable,” the decision said.
“All other factors aside, even if I declined the application, commercial use of the orchard remains approved under the existing consents.”
The application was granted subject to certain conditions to ensure that all relevant adverse effects on the environment were “minor, at worst”.
By Maia Hart, Local Democracy Reporter
LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air.