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Rural land use changes - what are your ideas?

Council is asking for the community’s help to make changes to the District Plan that will control rural development.
Updated: 23/10/2014 12:19 p.m.

​Setting the direction for Whangarei's rural land

PC85 A-D: Rural Plan change

“The community has set the direction for rural Whangarei’s development in a Rural Development Strategy adopted last year, following consultation, including workshops and written feedback, with the public,” said Team Leader District Plan, Policy and Monitoring Melissa McGrath.

“The Strategy set the direction for the future character, use and development of rural land and involved discussions with a range of stakeholders including professional bodies, primary producers, lifestylers, community groups, businesses, clubs and householders.

“Now we know the direction people want the rural area to take, we need to make some changes to the District Plan so that the rules it contains can be used to ensure development in rural areas moves that way. We are calling this Plan Change 85.

“It aims to introduce new rural zones - Rural Production zone and Rural Living zone.  Combined, the provisions of each of these zones will work together to protect primary production in our District and reduce reverse sensitivity issues caused by when people moving to the country expect city conditions," said Mrs McGrath.

"Existing lifestyle blocks will be recognised, rural living opportunities will be provided for in the most appropriate places, and commercial, residential and community facilities/activities will be consolidated within a rural village setting.”

Six new rural zones

“To do this, we have drafted new provisions including six new zones.  These will replace the existing Countryside, and Coastal Countryside Environments,” Mrs McGrath said.

The six new rural zones proposed are:  

  • Rural Production Environment, to protect and provide for farming and other primary production activities
  • Rural Living Environment, to protect and provide for residential/lifestyle activities
  • Strategic Rural Industry Environment, to protect and provide for and strategic rural industries
  • Rural Village Residential
  • Rural Village Centre
  •  Rural Village industrial 

“The three Rural Village environments allow for villages and town centres outside Whangarei city to have some mixed-use activity, as well as residential and industrial activities.  Areas on the urban fringe will be considered in more detail at a later stage to determine the most appropriate areas for urban growth to occur.”

These provisions would form the underlying rules for land use and subdivision in rural areas, and overlays will take into account features like:

  • outstanding landscapes,
  • the coastal environment,
  • hazard zones, and
  • sites of significance to Maori. 
Property owners that may be affected by these changes will be consulted separately to
this process.  

What is the rural area?

More than 80% of the land area of the Whangarei District is rural.   It extends to the District boundaries with Far North and Kaipara Districts.  It also includes productive areas on the coast that requires slightly different management under the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement.
The rural area, outside of the urban areas of Whangarei City, Ruakaka and Marsden Town Centre includes rural and coastal villages (three of which are identified centres of growth) and rural living clusters. 

Why have strong policy directions for the rural area?

“When a complicated resource consent application is assessed by Council we look at the District Plan’s objectives and policies when making a decision. The Rural Development Strategy indicates that the Plan needs specific rural policies that give clear, explicit directions as to where and how we want our rural area develop and grow.”

How different are the rules?

Mrs McGrath said huge changes to the rules have not been suggested and bulk and location rules for buildings have stayed much the same. 
“Some controls have been introduced to manage sprawl of commercial, industrial and residential development.  Subdivision rules have been changed to push residential development to existing areas of higher residential density, to protect productive land.

Where to from here?

We are preparing a free booklet for everyone interested in having a say about this proposed plan change to read, and putting the full proposals on our website for people to read on-line or print off themselves.  We will also be getting in touch with rural and mainstream media, to ensure people hear about this plan change.

Once feedback has been gathered we will revise the current proposals, and present these to Council. 
Once the draft is adopted a legal consultation process will begin, during which people can make submissions, be heard at hearings, and have their submissions considered by the Council before the Plan Change is adopted.

What is the District Plan?

The District Plan is the ‘rule book’ that says what can and can’t be done on land in the District.

This document is constantly on the move, adapting to changes in laws, and community values, climate, technological changes – as many factors as you can imagine.
Most of these changes require Councils to consult with their communities every time a change is proposed, but it can get a bit confusing because this means there are lots of opportunities to comment on different things.
For more information follow this link to Rural Plan Changes 85A-D: Rural



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