Development earmarked . . . An aerial image shows the proposed area of a 142ha lifestyle subdivision near Cromwell. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Cromwell residents are being faced with a second significant private plan change in their district in just over a year.

NZ Cherry Corp (Leyser) LP Ltd wants to develop a 160-lot subdivision on 142ha of land in Ripponvale Rd, beside a multimillion-dollar 29ha cherry expansion it announced earlier this year.

Central Otago district councillors last week accepted the company’s request to apply for a private plan change to rezone land for the development.

It does not mean the development has been approved, but instead that the plan change will now be considered. It will be Plan Change 14, advertised for public submissions and heard either by council commissioners, independent commissioners or a mix of both.

It is the second significant private plan change proposed recently. The hearing for Plan Change 13, to rezone land near the Highlands Motorsport Park corner to allow an 800-house subdivision, was held earlier this year and the decision on that is still to come.

But council planning manager David Campbell told councillors who questioned the timing of both plan changes they had no influence over the timing of either, nor was it yet time for the merits of the plan change and development to be discussed – that would happen after the full application had been made.

The application, from Town Planning Group, on behalf of NZ Cherry Corp, is to rezone part of the 244ha Shannon Farm, which Cherry Corp bought earlier this year. Its proposed cherry expansion there – which will be beside its existing orchard – will double its cherry plantings in the Cromwell district.

At present the land’s Rural Resource Area zoning allowed rural activities and allotments with a minimum of 2ha and average of 8ha, a report from Mr Campbell said.

The land is a mix of open grassland, shelterbelts, orchards and farmland, and steeper gullies and slopes on the lower slopes of the Pisa Range. Parts of the site contain an Outstanding Natural Landscape and Significant Amenity Landscape.

NZ Cherry Corp wants to establish a “rural lifestyle community” of up to 160 allotments between 2000sqm and 3ha, but is proposing to provide greater protection of the Pisa Range hill country areas and provide public access through that area for recreation purposes.

The application said the development would help meet demand for rural lifestyle sections in the wider Cromwell district.