Reformatting Metropolitan Zones
Through my Unitary Plan commentary I have made special mention of Metropolitan Zones and the issues around them. I am currently waiting (and I send my thanks to the Unitary Plan team for honouring my request when they are flat-out at the moment) a summary of the feedback from the Manukau Civic Forum two weeks ago to gauge the mood of Southern Auckland and redefining the Metropolitan Zones. However, I do have my initial reaction and notes from that Civic Forum in my “BACK FROM CIVIC FORUM” in which I did comment:
Metropolitan Centres. This was an interesting topic and got quite a debate going on the value and number of them in the Unitary Plan:
- Is ten metropolitan zones too many?
- What is really a metropolitan zone?
- It was deemed by the table I was on (I rose the idea and the table agreed) that Manukau is not a metropolitan centre that can be compared to the other listed. That in fact Manukau is a (Pasifika) (stand-alone) (sub regional) Hub in its own right, the CBD of Southern Auckland (everything south of Otahuhu) and as a result it should hold the same status as the Auckland CBD per the Unitary and Auckland Plans
- Are some Metropolitan Zones not really suitable as Metropolitan Zones and should either have the height limit lowered (say from 18 to 15 storeys) or even downgraded to Town Centre status
Now I do convey apologies to those who have familiarise themselves with the business zone aspect of The Clunker, but I am going to paste in here the definitions of three business zones in question:
From The Unitary Plan and my previous commentary on Business Zones:
City Centre zone – Zone description
The city centre is the top of the centres hierarchy and plays a pivotal role in Auckland’s present and future success. The zone seeks to ensure the city centre is an international centre for business and learning, innovation, entertainment, culture and urban living. To improve the vibe of the city centre environment, the zone permits a wide range of activities to establish in most parts of the city centre. The zone also manages activities that have the potential to adversely affect the amenity of the city centre. The Unitary Plan enables the greatest level of development in terms of height and floor area to occur in the city centre. Within the city centre itself, development potential is concentrated in the core central business district. Development potential reduces towards the ridgeline and transitions to lower heights on the waterfront and landward periphery.
The zone manages the scale of development in order to protect important historic heritage places, sunlight admission to parks and public spaces, and significant views to the volcanic cones and other landmarks. The significant height and scale of buildings in the city centre increases their visibility from many places, affecting the quality of both public and private views at local and citywide scales. In addition to managing the scale of development, the zone manages the quality of building design to ensure new buildings successfully integrate with the city centre’s existing built form and public realm to create an attractive and recognisable skyline. The city centre makes an important contribution to our sense of identity. Within the city centre are precincts and overlays, which have their own distinct features and character. Precincts and overlays may have additional management provisions.
Metropolitan Centre zone – Zone description
This zone applies to centres located in different subregional catchments of Auckland. The centres are second only to the city centre in overall scale and intensity and act as hubs for high frequency transport within their catchments. The zone provides for a wide range of activities including commercial, leisure, high density residential, tourist, cultural, community and civic services. Zone provisions, in conjunction with rules in the other business zones, reinforce metropolitan centres as locations for all scales of commercial activity. Precincts and overlays, which modify the underlying zone or have additional provisions, apply to some of the metropolitan centres.
Generally, however, to support an intense level of development, the zone allows for high-rise buildings. Some street frontages within the zone are subject to a Key Retail Frontage or General Commercial Frontage overlay. Key retail streets are the focal point of pedestrian activity within the centre. General commercial streets play a supporting role. Development fronting these streets is expected to reinforce this function. Rules for the overlay are incorporated in the zone rules. New development within the zone requires resource consent in order to ensure that it is designed to a high standard which enhances the quality of the centre’s public realm.
Town Centre zone – Zone description
This zone applies to suburban centres throughout Auckland, the satellite centres of Warkworth and Pukekohe, and the rural town of Helensville. The centres are typically located on main arterial roads, which provide good public transport access. The zone provides for a wide range of activities including commercial, leisure, residential, tourist, cultural, community and civic services. Provisions enable buildings between four to eight storeys high, depending on the characteristics of the centre. Increased height within the centres will facilitate increased office and residential living opportunities at upper floors. Some street frontages within the zone are subject to a Key Retail or General Commercial overlay. Key retail streets are the focal point of pedestrian activity within the centre. General commercial streets play a supporting role. Development fronting these streets is expected to reinforce this function. Rules for the overlay are incorporated in the zone rules. New development within the zone requires resource consent in order to ensure that it is designed to a high standard which enhances the quality of the centre’s streets and public open spaces.
Again from my “MANUKAU AS THE SECOND CBD OF AUCKLAND” post I have the list of Metropolitan Zones thus far in the Unitary Plan:
|Albany, Botany, Henderson, Manukau, New Lynn, Papakura||Maximum 72.5m (18 storeys)|
|Newmarket, Sylvia Park, Takapuna, Westgate/Massey||Subject to special rules such as volcanic cone sightline|
Now that your homework is out of the way, lets see what we can come up with for the Metropolitan Zones.
Metropolitan Zone – An Alternative, and Introduction to Large Town Centre Zones
From my perspective this is where we are with Metropolitan Zones:
- Too many Metropolitan Zones
- Some classed wrong as a Metropolitan Zone
- No flexibility with height maximums (not all can take 18 storeys, while others can take more)
- Definition needs reworking
This table gives an illustration to how I would categorise the places into their respective zones (taking into account I have not finalised my new definitions yet)
|Place||Existing Zone||Existing Height Limit||My Zone||My Height|
|Albany||Metropolitan||18 Storey (72.5m)||As is||25 Storey|
|Botany||Metropolitan||18 Storey (72.5m)||Large Town Centre||10 Storey (42m)|
|Henderson||Metropolitan||18 Storey (72.5m)||Large Town Centre||10 Storey (42m)|
|Manukau||Metropolitan||18 Storey (72.5m)||City Centre Zone||26 Storeys (105m)|
|New Lynn||Metropolitan||18 Storey (72.5m)||As is||As is|
|Papakura||Metropolitan||18 Storey (72.5m)||Large Town Centre||12 Storeys (48m)|
|Newmarket||Metropolitan||Subject to special rules such as volcanic cone sightline||As is||As is|
|Sylvia Park||Metropolitan||Subject to special rules such as volcanic cone sightline||Large Town Centre||12 Storeys (50m)||Following my Auckland Plan Submission.|
|Takapuna||Metropolitan||Subject to special rules such as volcanic cone sightline||Large Town Centre||Per special rules set by council|
|Westgate/Massey||Metropolitan||Subject to special rules such as volcanic cone sightline||Subject to further consideration including North West RUB layout||Subject to further consideration including North West RUB layout|
Like my Housing Simulator Mix, this is a first attempt so it is subject to change between now and May 31 (closing date for Unitary Plan feedback).
You can see I whittled down the Metropolitan Zone quantity from 10 to three (although Westgate I am still considering due to the North West Rural Urban Boundary debate happening currently) and created a new zone called Large Town Centre Zone. At the same time you can see Manukau and Albany have had their height limits lifted considerably to 25 and 26 Storeys respectively owing to their current or future characteristics. With this new Large Town Centre Zone; five of the current drafted Metropolitan Zones has been downgraded into this new zone. As for the finalised definition and differences between: Metropolitan Zone, Large Town Centre Zone, and Town Centre Zone; I am working on these and open for ideas on what you think they should be. As a starting point for Large Town Centre Zones I am blending the definition between the existing Town Centre and Metropolitan Zones and taking the best bits from both. These bits will be mixed with my existing zone alternatives found in my Auckland Plan submission with the final result going into my Unitary Plan submission. I am also aware that by lowering the height limits in one Metropolitan Zone, you have to go and place those new dwellings somewhere else. Lucky Manukau and Albany take a height increase, while I still had in my simulator mix a spare 8,700 dwellings on hand. However, Council might want to add this new Large Town Centre Zone in due course to the simulator so that we can gauge visually the impact it will have on the required housing stock. Just a thought there for our planners.
But in the meantime, give the idea with our Metropolitan Zones a thought. They are meant to be the sub-regional power hubs in Auckland and have a supportive role to the City Centre and the wider city. Has the Draft Unitary Plan got it right? Do I have it right? Is there elements from both that work and don’t work? Or do you have something else in mind?
Post your thoughts in the comment box – The Council Unitary Plan team do pay attention to this blog regularly (so I have been told). So any UP suggestions you have will get picked up along with what I pump out as well.
But for now – more coffee 😀