Today the Unitary Plan (Council’s rulebook for future development) recommendations were released by the Independendent Hearings Committee and Oratia featured on TV one 6 oclock news last night, as a suburb that would be able to be zoned for “future urban land use”, which sounded widespread.
In reality, the Rural Boundary in West Auckland remains largely unchanged . There are 3 properties affected and only one property in Oratia, on Parrs Cross Road that will be zoned urban but will still be included as part of the Heritage Area – this is similar to Titirangi and Laingholm who are both inside the Heritage Area but also zoned urban. So being zoned urban allows for more housing on that property, but it still requires the development retain the rural character and objectives of the heritage area act . You can read an article from Local Representative, Greg Presland on the Unitary Plan and the properties affected here. Link
Presland raises the issue that : ” The panel has also allowed the possibility of private applications to move the rural urban boundary something that previously was not possible. The combined effect of these changes means that the prospects of further threats to the Ranges are high.”
The Recommendations from the Panel are:
“the Panel agrees that the indicative development proposal shows that a clear contrast can be achieved when developing 121-123 Parrs Cross Road, thereby protecting and enhancing ‘rural character’ in the Foothills while allowing residential development contiguous to the existing urban area.
The Panel considers there is no presumption for aligning the Rural Urban Boundary with the boundary of the Waitākere Ranges Heritage Area now and into the future. The two boundaries serve different purposes and these purposes do not always align ‘on the ground’. As observed by Mr Barry Kaye (summary statement of evidence in rebuttal, Topic 081d, paragraph 9), “the PAUP as notified does not reflect a detailed analysis of the potential suitability of small parcels of land along the WRHA/RUB boundary to be zoned as urban”. Such an analysis by the Council may well have led to the conclusion that the Panel has reached i.e., there are some opportunities in West Auckland to amend the Rural Urban Boundary. Done carefully, these developments have the potential to protect the heritage features and create a clear contrast between the urban area and the rural character of the Foothills.”
The Unitary Plan Recommendations on the Rural Boundary Change to the properties in full here.
The main topic relating to our area is the Topic 75 Waitakere Ranges . Oratia has it’s own Precinct rules and two new zones – the H20 Waitakere Foothills Zone (the more open pasture bits of Oratia) and the Waitakere Ranges Zone (the more bush clad bits of Oratia and others.)
The panel made metion of Oratia local, Paul Mitchell for his “pragmatic approach based on experience.” “In the Rural – Waitākere Ranges Zone, there is no limit on the length of driveways and an average gradient of one in five is adopted. This allows for steeper sections of driveway and also recognises that modern vehicles can negotiate steeper gradients. Mr Mitchell also supported provision for portable sawmills. The Panel agrees that portable sawmills are commonly used in the Foothills and has retained the activity status and standard.”
The panels also said : “The Panel agrees with Ms Turner, Strategic Property Action Network Incorporated, Ms Bobbi Carroll and other submitters that the provisions for the Waitākere Ranges Heritage Area are not sufficiently enabling of people and communities. Like the Council, residents and landowners are stewards of the land and they need opportunities to earn an income to support themselves and the land in a way that sustains the heritage features.”
In the Panel’s view, there are five matters in section 8 of the Waitākere Ranges Heritage Area Act that require particular attention in the Plan and these have influenced the Panel’s recommended structure:
i. ensuring that impacts on the area as a whole are considered when decisions are made affecting any part of it;
ii. recognising that the area has little capacity to absorb further subdivision and that the cumulative effect of subdivision should not adversely affect the heritage features or contribute to urban sprawl;
iii. recognising that people live and work in the area in distinct communities, and to enable those people to provide for their social, economic, environmental and cultural wellbeing;
iv. providing for rural uses in order to retain a rural character in the area; and v. protecting the natural and historic resources for the benefit, use and enjoyment of the people and communities of the Auckland region and New Zealand.
For example, this means recreational use of the ranges is enabled while protecting the natural environment. These matters highlight the inevitable tension between protecting the natural environment and enabling the wellbeing of people and communities. This tension is most apparent in the foothills, an area in transition away from traditional rural activities that is located between the existing urban area and the ranges.
Links to Information on Oratia Overlays: What’s permissible etc.
Interactive Map where you can enter your own property address and see what overlays are on your property is HERE
Author Penny Sparks