Cromwell community group receives $40,000 to fight PC13

by Kim Bowden - May 26, 2020

Cromwell residents in a “David versus Goliath” battle with a major land developer have received a $40,000 boost to their arsenal.

Residents for Responsible Development Cromwell (R4RDC) will use the grant that was applied for from the Ministry of Environment’s Environmental Legal Assistance Fund to fight Plan Change 13 in the Environment Court.

The controversial plan change, pushed by Winton CEO Chris Meehan, would allow for a large-scale subdivision on the outskirts of Cromwell, neighbouring Highlands Motorsport Park, Cromwell Speedway and existing orchards.

Last year, independent commissioners declined Mr Meehan’s request for the plan change required to rezone the land in question to allow his proposed residential development, however the developer has opted to appeal the decision in the Environment Court.

R4RDC spokesman Duncan Faulkner

R4RDC spokesperson Duncan Faulkner says although the developer has “a machine of experts” backing his agenda, the funding will allow concerned locals the opportunity to effectively challenge the appeal in what he describes as a “David versus Goliath fight”.

The group will continue to crowdsource further funds, which will help pay for additional experts to provide evidence the sprawling development is not what Cromwell wants or needs, he says.

Cromwell Community Boarder member Werner Murray, also a member of R4RDC, says the cash injection is the “shot in the arm” the group needs to continue their defence, and it may have repurcussions for similar community-led fights across the country.

“It’s pretty exciting for us to get that sort of endorsement. We are getting traction, we are making headway in building our case and potentially this will have national significance.”

As the impact of Covid begins to bite, some may give the group stick for seeking to thwart development, Mr Murray says. But they’re sticking to their guns.

“This Government’s talking about ‘let’s build things quickly, with all haste’, but I just don’t think that rolls out everywhere. You still have to be responsible. It’s a reason to get going, it’s certainly not a reason to steamroll a community.”

Crux has approached Winton for comment.

Main Image (credited Kim Bowden): Controversial Plan Change 13 that would allow for a major residential subdivison on the outskirts of Cromwell will be fought by the town's residents in the Environment Court.


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