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How do you want the urban areas to develop?

This page contains information about the District Plan Changes and seeking information from the public before we start creating new zones in our urban areas.
Updated: 15/06/2018 2:55 p.m.

​District Plan Changes:  Urban Environments, Open Space, Transport, Three Waters

We’re seeking your feedback before we start creating new zones in Whangārei’s urban area, three new Open Space Environments and some new rules around transport, drinking water, stormwater and wastewater.

Urban areas, open space, transport and water affect us all so we need to get the planning for them right.

We need feedback from a range of people on how they want the urban areas to develop.

Over the next six weeks in these pages we will be outlining the draft changes, asking for your feedback and explaining ways to get your views in to us.

Tell us what you think about the approach we are planning, what should be different, and how we can achieve that.

Whangārei has a District Plan that lays out all the rules and regulations about how land can be used in our District. It divides the District up into Environments (zones) and has rules for each Environment and for the whole District.

The Plan was developed with the community years ago and is kept up to date with changes the community wants, changes in legislation and developments in technology and scientific knowledge. It is reviewed constantly over a 10 year-cycle. Different parts of it are reviewed each year and plan changes are made each year. These changes go through a public consultation process to ensure the Plan still reflects the wants and needs and requirements of the community.

This year we are asking for your feedback on 16 draft Plan Changes that will create new urban zones, a new open space zone and new transport and water management rules that will affect all parts of our District.

There is quite a lot to find out about and comment upon, so the consultation period is two months.

An interactive website has been developed to make it easier to find out what changes are planned and where, and to make it easy to make submissions (link below). 

This week we are providing a very brief overview of the package of changes. We are outlining the name and aim of each change and the main new elements.

Over coming weeks we will go into more detail about the different packages of changes.

Urban Plan Changes

Setting the Direction for our Urban Area

Whangārei’s urban areas include Whangārei City, Maunu, Kamo, Tikipunga, Onerahi and Raumunga as well as Marsden Point and Ruakaka.

Urban areas contain a range of living, commercial and industrial activities, which are key to the wellbeing and identity of the community. We continually review the direction the urban area is heading through strategic documents such as the Whangārei District Growth Strategy: Sustainable Futures 30/50, the Whangārei City Centre Plan and various Structure Plans.

Today there is a focus on intensifying these areas in ways that work for communities on all sorts of levels, from lifestyle to the economy, for residents and businesses. We have heard that people want high-quality, consolidated urban growth, more medium density residential development and inner city living, economic growth and a more vibrant and robust commercial centre. To achieve this, commercial sprawl may need to be limited.

Several changes have been drafted to help bring this about. They are in the Urban Area Chapter of the Plan.

Urban Area Chapter

The Urban Area Chapter is a new chapter dedicated to the urban environment. It will provide clearer direction for subdivision and development in the urban area. The draft Urban Area applies to Whangārei City, the surrounding suburbs and Marsden Point/Ruakaka. The Urban Area Policy will apply over the draft Urban Environments (zones) and deal with issues that crop up at the boundaries between zones.

City Centre Environment

The City Centre Environment seeks to replace the existing Business 1 Environment mainly providing for commercial, retail, entertainment and residential activities. We want this area to be active and vibrant with high amenity and strong urban design. The aim is to provide a strong, enduring and consolidated central city area that is a focal point for residents and visitors.

City Fringe Environment

The City Fringe Environment seeks to replace areas of the existing Business 2 and 3 Environments adjacent to the City Centre Environment. The City Fringe Environment provides primarily for offices, commercial services, visitor accommodation and residential activities.

The aim is to encourage high quality development that complements the City Centre and Hātea Loop. It is likely that change will happen gradually over time as higher amenity builds are encouraged and non-compatible land uses are relocated out of this Environment.

General Business Environment

The General Business Environment would provide space for a range of business activities that may not be appropriate for Environments such as the City Centre, City Fringe or Waterfront Environments. This includes activities ranging from smaller-scale industrial activities to commercial services, offices and trade suppliers. It would replace parts of the existing Business 2, 3 and 4 Environments.

Trade Retail Environment

The Trade Retail Environment would be for industrial activities and larger scale retail activities such as motor vehicle sales, garden centres, trade suppliers and hire premises, service stations and food outlets. The aim is to provide suitable areas for smaller-scale industrial activities and compatible commercial activities to enable economic development and employment opportunities. It would replace parts of the existing Business 2 and 4 Environments on the fringes of the Urban Area.

Heavy Industry Environment

The Heavy Industry Environment provides for larger scale, or heavy, industrial activities while avoiding incompatible activities. It would replace areas of the existing Business 4 Environment on the fringes of the Urban Area and in the Marsden Point / Ruakaka area.

Shopping Centre Environment

The Shopping Centre Environment seeks to consolidate large retail stores into shopping centres. Quality urban design and small scale food and beverage retailers are encouraged to promote a vibrant shopping experience. Shopping Centre Environments should be pedestrian friendly, complement surrounding Environments and be well connected to the City Centre.

Waterfront Environment

The Waterfront has seen steady development since the 1990’s. Today, the main uses of the area are active and passive recreation with a selection of tourism focused, retail, accommodation, restaurant and entertainment facilities. A diverse range of maritime activities, defining history and a rich cultural heritage, are reflected in the buildings, a heritage walkway and the Wave and Waka sculpture. Open spaces by the waterfront and planted areas framed by a pedestrian loop also contribute to the area’s unique character and coherent sense of place. Having a Waterfront Environment in the Plan would acknowledge and support this as a special area.

Local Centres Environment

Suburban centres are often the heart of a suburb providing a focus point for community functions and community identities. They serve a wider area and contain activities such as supermarkets, a range of retail goods and services, small scale office activities and some community, recreation and health services. They may be anchored by a traditional main street with active street frontages, high levels of pedestrian activity and links to public transport networks.

The Local Centre Environment seeks to provide for the suburban and neighbourhood centres scattered throughout Whangārei City and Ruakaka with a mix of commercial, community and residential activities. These centres would provide a limited range of everyday goods and services to their communities. This new Environment would ensure the range and scale of activities in this new zone are compatible with neighbouring residential activities and local values. Very limited opportunities exist for expansion of these neighbourhood centres.

Urban Residential Environment

The Urban Residential Environment has low to medium density residential development with one to two storey, stand-alone buildings on larger properties. Housing development would be limited to larger lots or minor residential units that cannot be subdivided from the principal residential unit. There would be opportunities for increased development in specific areas that are suitable for medium density development. Comprehensive development of some larger sites or amalgamated sites, could enable higher density development. Non-residential activities would be discouraged within the Environment which would replace the existing Living 1 and 2 Environments within the Urban Area.

Large Lot Residential Environment

The Large Lot Residential Environment would be for large sections with low density residential living on the borders of urban areas that have more intensive residential development. It would transition between urban areas and the rural environment. Development patterns will generally include large, unserviced residential lots with middle sized to large houses surrounded by large areas of open space. Commercial activities would be discouraged but small-scale home-based ones would be allowed. It would replace the existing Living 3 Environment.

Whangarei Airport Environment

The Whangarei Airport Environment manages land use and subdivision around Whangarei Airport which is not associated with the airport’s services.

Whangarei Hospital Environment

The Whangarei Hospital Environment would be specifically for the operation of Whangarei Base Hospital, medical facilities and supported residential care facilities.

Plan Change 115 (PC115) Open Space Environments

Open Space Area

Open Space areas are used for active and passive recreation, education, culture, socialising and conservation. Currently there is one Environment for all open space, with a single set of rules. These rules are not flexible enough to allow for the different types of recreation and conservation activities people take part in today so three new open space Environments are suggested.

  • Open Space – Natural Environment
  • Open Space – Active Recreation Environment
  • Open – Passive Recreation Environment

Open Space – Natural Environment

The development of the Open Space - Natural Environment Chapter would identify areas of open space land that is mainly used to conserve and protect natural resources. These areas make up a large portion of existing open space within our District and are often purposefully set aside or reserved to protect natural features and vegetation. These areas often have a low level of development but can have walkways and tracks, beach access, parking areas, toilets and campsites.

Open Space – Active Recreation Environment

The Open Space – Active Recreation Environment chapter would identify large open space areas mainly used for organised activities like events and indoor and outdoor sports. Sports fields, major parks, hardcourt areas, multi-sports facilities, boat ramps, public gardens, cemeteries, community halls and civic spaces would be included. These areas are often home to a high level of development, public use and social interaction and can generate noise, traffic and lighting when compared to other open space environments.

Open Space – Passive Recreation Environment

The development of the Open Space – Passive Recreation Environment would identify local park spaces which are characterised by informal outdoor recreational activities and community uses.

Usually these have few buildings and structures, and those that do exist support the enjoyment of the public open space. These spaces are usually of smaller size and feature lower levels of development. Some may have higher natural and heritage values. These areas often require a higher level of maintenance than Natural spaces because of where they are, how they are used and the vegetation cover they have. Whangārei District currently has less land zoned like this than the population needs.

Other District-Wide Plan Changes

Plan Change 109 (PC109) – Transport

The transport network serves a vital function providing for the movement of people and goods, creates a service corridor and is a public space that people can identify with and use to interact. This Plan Change primarily covers aspects including road design, off-street parking standards, landscaping within parking areas and vehicle crossing and access standards.

Plan Change 136 (PC136) – Three Waters Management

This Plan Change seeks to manage the impact of land use and subdivision on water resources, namely: stormwater drainage, wastewater collection, treatment and disposal and drinkable water supply.

Your Feedback

Please visit our Plan Changes website (link below). You have the opportunity to provide feedback on these Plan Changes. 

You also have to opportunity to give us your comments and complete our survey.

Contact us



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