15 Nov 2012

Replacing old district plans

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Written by: Marianne Kelly
Published: Howick and Pakuranga Times 15 November 2012

INFORMAL public consultation is under way to “put the meat on the bones” of a plan for the super-city’s direction over the next 30 years.

The Auckland Plan, a document released last May, is close to 500 pages long and sets out a vision for the region.

The job now is to produce a Unitary Plan to establish the rules for putting the Auckland Plan into action and replace the regional and district plans previously operated by the legacy councils.

The Unitary Plan will cover matters such as whether resource consent is needed to construct a building, make alterations or demolish it.

The plan will also identify protected heritage buildings and other features of Auckland’s environment and determine what may be done on or with the water in streams, lakes and the sea.

Many of the existing district and regional plans are more than a decade old. Auckland Council says the intention is to combine the best of the previous plans with the direction of the Auckland Plan to provide consistent, clear and simplified rules on what development can happen and where.

Local boards have started discussions with key stakeholder groups in communities and informal feedback will be sought from residents and ratepayers early next year.

“The Unitary Plan is a critical piece of work,” says Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse. “It will potentially touch every homeowner because their property is important to them.

“It will not be without controversy, so we want to hear the issues.

“We want informal engagement at the start of the process compared with the old way, which was to reach for a lawyer and ‘we’ll see you in court’,” she says. “One thing Aucklanders want is to have greater ability to control urban design.

“At the moment we have a ‘one size fits all’ approach, so we’re looking at more flexibility.”

Past district plans had unintended consequences, says Penny Pirrit, the council’s manager of regional and local planning.

“We’re looking at raising the barriers to get a mix of housing choice. We need to be more flexible, providing different sorts of housing for different sorts of families.”

The Unitary Plan, Ms Hulse says, will unfold over 30 years and needs Auckland-wide consultation.

“This is for us and our children as we head for two million in population. We have to deal with that growth, yet ensure the Hunuas, Waitakeres and elite Pukekohe soils are not covered in houses.”

The Auckland Plan identifies a rural urban boundary and staged release of greenfield land to provide for a population projected to grow to between 2.2-2.5 million over the next three decades. A 70:40 existing urban to new greenfield development ratio is envisaged.

Recent Statistics NZ figures indicate that within the next 20 years, Auckland’s population will grow by a third from 1.5m to about 2m, while 38 of every 100 New Zealanders are expected to live inside super-city boundaries.

The Unitary Plan has Auckland divided into six zones: north, urban north and west, central, urban south including the Howick ward, and south, which includes Franklin Ward.

Greenfield areas earmarked for development investigation are north of the city, in the Franklin ward adjoining Pine Harbour and Beachlands, and south of Papakura around Pukekohe and Waiuku, and at the base of Ellets Beach inlet near Kingseat.

The plan outlines a hierarchy of urban centres.

The central city centre is described as the focus of national and international business, tourism, educational, cultural and civic activities.

Botany is one of a group of “metropolitan centres”, which serve local catchments or have strategic roles in the region.

Town centres, acting as local hubs for communities providing retail and business services and community facilities, include Highland Park, Howick, Ormiston and Pakuranga.

Local centres, acting as a focus for a community and providing a range of convenience shops and small business services, together with some community facilities, include Botany Junction, Dawson Road and Meadowlands.

Criteria for housing intensification have also been established.

Building height levels are limited to four storeys around neighbourhood centres which, based on a small group of shops, may also be aligned with a community facility, such as a school.

Town and local centre housing development is low to medium, up to eight storeys, while intensification around the central city and metropolitan centres includes medium-rise of five to eight storeys, and high-rise, more than nine storeys.

Flat Bush, where development is in the pipeline, is marked for significant change in the plan, with a predominant form of new housing involving low-rise and medium-rise apartments and terraced housing and town houses. The area includes the planned Ormiston Town Centre.

Areas of moderate change include around Botany and Pakuranga Town Centres, where new housing would be mostly attached, low-rise apartments and terraced houses up to three or four storeys; also some small lot detached and semi-detached housing.

Some change is flagged for Howick, Pakuranga and Pine Harbour/Beachlands. The Unitary Plan is expected to include innovative ways of allowing high-quality residential infill and redevelopment in these areas.

The Auckland Plan says the overall proportion of detached dwellings will decrease over time.

“If we achieve the aim of 70 per cent growth within the urban footprint over 30 years, it’s likely that about 60 per cent of all new dwellings will be attached.”


 

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