Preserving one of our few tuff cones left
Some excellent news came out via the Environment Court decision on one of very few volcanic craters not impacted by urban encroachment.
From Auckland Council via Our Auckland:
The court declined an appeal by the Self Family Trust and adjacent landowners against the Auckland Unitary Plan which zones Crater Hill and Pūkaki Peninsula as rural land outside the Rural Urban Boundary.
The Trust had proposed including the land in the Rural Urban Boundary to allow building up to 575 houses on certain parts of Crater Hill and appealed against the council’s Unitary Plan decision.
Parts of Pūkaki Peninsula were favoured by landowners as a Future Urban zone allowing urbanisation over areas of very productive land in the future.
Planning Committee Chair Councillor Chris Darby said the appeal was a test of the Unitary Plan provisions.
“At the time the Unitary Plan was introduced, we were acutely aware of the need to protect the ‘green lungs’ of Auckland and ensure that the natural and cultural landscape of Auckland would be safeguarded.
“Council is committed to maintaining this as a priority and the Environment Court’s decision shows that we’ve been successful in protecting what we consider to be a remarkable part of our unique volcanic landscape.”
The Environment Court decision by Judge Jon Jackson and Environment Commissioners Eileen von Dadelszen and James Baines said that while the decision would have implications for housing elsewhere in the city, housing demand is not a simple issue. It is not a case of ‘push the balloon of supply in here and it will bulge out elsewhere.’
Taking into account the existing markets available for housing the court was satisfied its decision would have minimal impact on housing supply and prices.
“Standing back and looking at all relevant considerations, properly weighted, we consider that Auckland Council drew the Rural Urban Boundary in the correct place so as to exclude Pūkaki Peninsula and Crater Hill.
“Its decision should be confirmed as creating an appropriate strong defensible boundary in this area.”
This is where Crater Hill is:
And Unitary Plan wise:
The area highlighted was the appeal area – rural production and a quarry zone. It was where the quarry was (next to the motorway) that was going to be subject to housing if the Environment Court ruled the other way.
A comment from Planning Committee Chair – Councillor Chris Darby:
Almost two years ago it could have been very different. Then a slim majority of councillors supported saving Crater Hill and Pukaki Peninsula in Puhinui, based on the official advice from council staff, a landscape architect and Maori cultural advisor.
The narrow 10-9 vote in August 2016 allowed council to defend the appeal. Today we celebrate protection of a truly remarkable natural and cultural landscape.
I remember that vote very well and the subsequent appeal that came along the way.
Still at least the Council – narrowly and the Environment Court are recognising that our elite soils and cultural/physical treasures not encroached on by urban development need protecting from said urban development.
Rather timely given Environment Minister David Parker is preparing a National Policy Statement under the Resource Management Act 1991 to for Planning Authorities (so Auckland Council with the Unitary Plan) to discourage urban development on elite soils. More of this will be fleshed out but as far as I can see for now it means the Rural Urban Boundary (the main mechanism Auckland has and we just saw with Crater Hill) will be shifted from District Policy to Regional Policy Statement level – that is it will take a lot more to shift the RUB into rural land than it does now.