Council to take position to send back to the Hearings
I see there is a slight flap over the Volcanic View Shafts topic again given the Auckland Development Committee meets today to take a position on the view shafts back to the Panel after a directive was ordered from the Panel itself.
Looking at the Agenda item:
|Auckland Development Committee
22 March 2016
Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan – Council Position for Mediation – Volcanic Viewshafts and Height Sensitive Areas
File No.: CP2016/04591
- To obtain, for the purpose of mediation directed by the Auckland Unitary Plan Independent Hearings Panel, the Auckland Development Committee’s position on:
- retaining 70 “regionally significant” Volcanic Viewshafts within the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan (PAUP);
- the recommended removal of five Volcanic Viewshafts;
- the recommended reclassification of three Volcanic Viewshafts as “locally significant”; and
- amendments to the height controls for land within two Height Sensitive Areas.
- At its meeting on 13 August 2015, the Auckland Development Committee supported a review of the criteria in the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan (PAUP) for regionally significant views, and the development of criteria for locally significant views. The committee also supported a further review of the impacts of the viewshafts on development. Subsequently, the Auckland Unitary Plan Independent Hearings Panel(the Panel) directed a process of expert caucusing covering essentially the same matters. This report considers the outcomes of the expert caucusing in relation to Volcanic Viewshafts and Height Sensitive Areas.
- The expert caucusing has involved an extensive review of the Volcanic Viewshafts and Height Sensitive Areas and a consistent (amongst the experts) description of the values of each. This in-depth analysis has highlighted some Volcanic Viewshafts that are no longer considered to be of significance and others that have local, rather than regional significance. A new “local significance” category is being recommended, by the experts group, accompanied by identification criteria and revised planning provisions. In relation to land in two Height Sensitive Areas, the work has identified that the permitted heights in specific areas can be raised without affecting local views to the adjacent maunga.
That the Auckland Development Committee:
a) support retaining 70 “regionally significant” Volcanic Viewshafts within the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan.
b) support, due to their compromised nature, the recommended removal of the following Volcanic Viewshafts from the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan (as shown in Attachment A to the agenda report):
1. A11: Mount Albert from Fowlds Park
2. E04: Mount Eden from Balmoral Road
3. E06: Mount Eden from Alberton House
4. E19: Mount Eden from the Southern Motorway
5. W06: Mount Wellington from Waipuna Road.
c) support reclassifying the following Volcanic Viewshafts as “locally significant” within the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan (as shown in Attachment B to the agenda report):
1. O10: One Tree Hill from College Road
2. T08: Rangitoto from St Helier’s Bay Road
3. W13: Mount Wellington from West Tamaki Road
d) support amendments to the provisions in the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan to introduce a “Locally Significant Volcanic Viewshafts” category, in which resource consent applications to exceed the floor of the viewshaft are a Restricted Discretionary Activity (in contrast to the current Non-complying Activity status for “regionally significant” viewshafts).
e) support amendments to the height control for the Height Sensitive Area that applies to the main Devonport business area to permit heights of up to 9 metres and 13 metres in specific areas, as shown in Attachment C to the agenda report.
f) support amendments to the height control for the Height Sensitive Area that applies to the Elizabeth Knox Retirement Home to permit heights of up to 9 metres around the perimeter of the site and 11 metres in the core of the site, as shown in Attachment C to the agenda report.
- Volcanic Viewshafts and Height Sensitive Areas are used to protect the visual integrity of volcanic maunga classified as Outstanding Natural Features in the PAUP. Key features of the provisions in the PAUP are:
- The Regional Policy Statement (RPS) objective and policies provide for the “regionally significant” views to and between Auckland’s maunga to be identified and protected.
- The RPS objective and policies, also copied into district plan section of the PAUP, provide that buildings or structures that penetrate the floor of the Volcanic Viewshafts are to be “avoided” unless they have “no adverse effect” on the visual integrity of the volcanic maunga as seen from the identified viewing point or line, or such development is located and complies with an identified height sensitive area.
- Urban intensification is required to be consistent with the protection of volcanic features and viewshafts.
- The rules provide that, with some exceptions (including buildings that do not further intrude into viewshafts and some infrastructure), buildings and structures that exceed the permitted heights are a Non-complying Activity and are required to be publicly notified.
- Volcanic Viewshaft and Height Sensitive Area provisions have existed in Auckland’s planning documents for the past 40 years. With some modifications and updating, the PAUP generally adopted previous plan viewshafts and Height Sensitive Areas, and associated provisions.
- The key features listed in Paragraph 4 a) to d) above were the basis of the council’s position going into the Volcanic Viewshafts and Height Sensitive Areas hearing in May last year.
- The major issues raised by submitters at the hearing were as follows:
a) Many submitters were concerned that the PAUP did not contain an explanation of the values of the Volcanic Viewshafts and Height Sensitive Areas. This was associated with a general concern about insufficient justification for the viewshafts and Height Sensitive Areas under section 32 of the Resource Management Act.
b) Some submitters, notably Housing New Zealand Corporation (HNZC), did not agree that all of the viewshafts are regionally significant. HNZC sought the introduction of “district” and “local” categories of viewshafts, with correspondingly more flexible rules.
c) One or two submitters, notably the Volcanic Cones Protection Society, sought that all of the 87 viewshafts in the notified PAUP are retained, and that an extra local category of viewshaft protection is introduced, allowing the addition of further viewshafts through later plan changes.
d) A number of parties considered that the policy “test” should be “no more than minor” adverse effects rather than “no” adverse effects, at least for what they regarded as being less significant (or more “costly”) viewshafts.
e) Many submitters opposed the Non-complying Activity category and public notification rules. A key reason given was that there were likely to be resource consent applications that did not have adverse effects, or more than minor adverse effects. The costs and time involved in processing those applications was considered an unnecessary and unjustified expense. Many parties sought that the public notification rules are deleted and that the Non-complying Activity category is replaced by one requiring a Restricted Discretionary Activity.
f) Several submitters considered that the costs associated with the loss of opportunities for urban intensification need to be taken into account in assessing whether Volcanic Viewshafts and Height Sensitive Areas are included in the PAUP, and that the costs of limiting urban intensification should be one of the criteria used to assess applications for infringing the Volcanic Viewshaft and Height Sensitive Area height controls.
- On 17 July 2015, the Panel released interim guidance on Volcanic Viewshafts and Height Sensitive Areas. The Panel indicated that, at that stage, it did not consider that all of the Volcanic Viewshafts contained in the PAUP were of regional significance or that any development that penetrates a Volcanic Viewshaft would be inappropriate.
- The interim guidance was considered by the Auckland Development Committee on 13 August 2015. The committee supported a review of the criteria in the PAUP for regionally significant views, and the development of criteria for locally significant views. The committee also supported a further review of the impacts of the viewshafts on development (AUC/2015/173).
- On 21 August 2015, the Panel issued a procedure for further assessment of Volcanic Viewshafts and Height Sensitive Areas. Landscape, planning and economic experts representing all submitters that wished to be involved were to caucus and carry out the following tasks:
- a) Identification, description and assessment of the public values of each Volcanic Viewshaft and Height Sensitive Area (and supply that information to all interested parties).
- b) Identification of criteria/methodology appropriate to each Volcanic Viewshaft and Height Sensitive Areas identification.
- c) General identification of views to volcanic cones that merit assessment (starting with the existing 87 Volcanic Viewshaft in the notified PAUP and any others specifically identified in submissions).
- d) Specification of the boundaries of the Volcanic Viewshaft and Height Sensitive Areas needed to protect the identified public values of the view.
- e) Assessment of the overall value of each Volcanic Viewshaft and Height Sensitive Area at regional, district or local level.
- The Panel directed that there was then to be a mediation involving all submitters on the extent of protection appropriate to the Volcanic Viewshafts and Height Sensitive Areas in light of their values and significance, and taking into account other relevant PAUP provisions (other overlays, zoning, development controls, designations, etc). This mediation is scheduled for 5 April 2016.
- Finally, there was to be a consideration of the appropriateness of including the Volcanic Viewshafts and Height Sensitive Areas in the PAUP informed by section 32 analysis, including all benefits and costs and a review of the Volcanic Viewshaft or Height Sensitive Areas where section 32 analysis indicated amendment, reassessment or deletion.
- The hearing is scheduled to reconvene on 4 May 2016.
The full agenda item can be read here.
The Interim Guidance noted above can be read below:
The basic premise is this:
Can the View Shaft in question be defended in the Environment Court when the Unitary Plan goes live in September? Judge Kirkpatrick – chair of the Unitary Plan Hearings Panel has indicated “no” for a few hence the above for Council to decide on in with taking a position back to the Panel.
Better question yet is that can the Councillors actually handle the matter of the view shafts after Housing New Zealand nullified their votes on the Out of Scope material that was done last month?
Will know by 5pm one way or the other that is for sure.