More planning inflexibility

Stuff reports:

Palmerston North resident Gary Sturgess cannot believe how much red tape there is over a kitchen sink.

The particular sink is part of downstairs rooms at his Ruahine St home where 21-year-old granddaughter Georgia Garrett, who has Down syndrome, is learning independent living skills while under the same roof as mother Tania, aunt Jacqui and granddad Gary.

The family bought the house 2½ years ago, having chosen to live together after a difficult year when Sturgess’ wife Valerie had died.

The home had everything to enable three adults and a teenager to live together for support, while each had private space, a bathroom and somewhere to prepare a cup of tea or basic meal.

But a few months after purchase, a letter from the city council told them the two downstairs units did not have planning consent.

Sturgess was taken by surprise, and appalled by the initial estimates of the cost of putting things right.

There was the possibility of having to provide two extra car parks on site for each unit, additional outdoor living space, paying development contributions – adding up to about $12,000. Alternatively, the sinks could be disconnected. Landscaping plans went on hold.

This is just idiotic. If they want to have a house with only one car park for three people they should be able to. And why does the Council care how many sinks you have?

Sturgess said when buying the house, the family had no reason to question whether the kitchen sinks were consented. There was no sink in Georgia’s flat when they first looked, but there had been in the past, and the vendor offered to put it back in for them.

“We thought that would make it perfect for Georgia, given her desire to go flatting one day.”

They had sought a Land Information Management report before purchase, and no red flags were raised.

That is unusual. The LIM should list any consent issues.

Policy planner Matthew Mackay said submitters had challenged the rule about just one extra self-contained unit on a residential property, and there was a possibility of more flexibility being written into the District Plan after a hearing this year.

That would be good.

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