The Sikh community in Hastings is celebrating after the Hastings District Council changed its mind and granted it resource consent to build a new temple on productive land.
In 2010 the Sikh community bought four hectares of land on the outskirts of Hastings on the understanding a new bigger temple would be permitted, but a plan change in 2015 put paid to their plans.
The council then rejected a resource consent application from the New Zealand Sikh Society in 2017, saying it could set a precedent, allowing 'urban creep' on land in the Plains Production Zone.
The issue went to a hearing in July and in a decision released this week the council will now allow the $4 million development to go ahead, though it still had to apply for building consent.
"We are so happy. It's a big win for us," Gurdwara Sahib Hastings committee member Jagjiwan Singh said.
The community currently only had a very small temple in central Hastings that could not accommodate all worshippers, and it was hoped a new purpose-built temple would bring more families to Hawke's Bay.
"Already some families have left. So this will be good for the Hawke's Bay economy too because we can now bring our families back and say: 'Look, we will have a nice big temple here.'
"We are really appreciative of what Hastings District Council has done for us," Mr Singh said.
In its decision, the council said that although the temple did not meet the key objectives within the productive zone, it was not contrary to its district plan and it also met community well-being clauses within the Resource Management Act.
Once built, the temple will be open 24/7, hosting up to 700 people for special events such as weddings. It will also feature a library, a residence for the head priest and community gardens.
This news piece was originally published on Radio New Zealand and is being re-published by The Indian Weekender in the agreement of content partnership between Radio New Zealand and The Indian Weekender.