The independent panel hearing submissions on the Auckland unitary plan issued guidance on Friday requiring parties to work out a way forward on volcanic viewshafts.
Auckland Council has produced one option, but Housing NZ Corp wants a hierarchy giving 3 levels of protection. Housing NZ’s concern has been that the many viewshafts around Auckland reduce housing development options.
The panel’s chair for this topic, Peter Fuller, said the panel had been presented with 2 different methodologies for the identification & management of viewshafts to & between volcanic cones & local views.
“The council has proposed a single level of protection for regional volcanic viewshafts, and Housing NZ has proposed a 3-stage hierarchy of regional, district & local volcanic viewshafts.”
Mr Fuller said: “The volcanic cones are a defining element of Auckland’s natural heritage. Views to & between the cones are generally worthy of protection.” He then set out 4 issues:
- How or from where should views to & between the volcanic cones be identified?
- How many views are of sufficient public value that it is appropriate for them to be included in the unitary plan?
- How should those identified views of public value be protected to meet the purpose of the act?
- To what extent should the protection of identified views of public value be limited when protected viewshafts are but one of many layers of constraints on land use in the unitary plan which cumulatively may hinder the strategic framework of the Auckland Plan and the objectives of the regional policy statement?
Mr Fuller said the panel considered that the objectives, policies & rules in relation to viewshafts didn’t meet the section 32 requirements of the Resource Management Act for the following reasons:
- The proposed unitary plan is a new plan and the requirements of section 32 must be applied accordingly
- The inclusion of protected viewshafts in legacy plans is a relevant matter but does not obviate the need for analysis to show that the proposed plan meets the statutory requirements, especially where there is an absence of historical detailed evaluation records for each viewshaft
- Significant amendments were made to section 32 in 2013 to require employment & economic growth opportunities (including lost opportunities) to be taken into account, and these post-date many if not all of the legacy provisions
- The proposed plan is the first substantive planning process to propose increased levels of intensification to achieve a quality compact city, so it is appropriate that the viewshafts are now re-evaluated within that strategic context
- GIS technology that was not available when many of the viewshafts were originally identified now enables viewshafts to be assessed to see if modifications can mitigate the adverse impact on development while still retaining the key values that are to be protected
- Improved development capacity modelling tools are now available to better understand the opportunity costs of the viewshafts alongside the benefits, so that better informed assessments can be made than in the
- It is necessary to assess the values of the viewshafts first in order to then determine whether or not they are regionally Identification of the values also better enables appropriate protection of the viewshafts from inappropriate subdivision, use and development. While the values of longstanding protected views, for example to the Museum and Mt Eden, may be straightforward to identify and could almost be taken for granted, not all of the viewshafts that are claimed to be regionally significant warrant that status when the values have not yet been fully determined.
“On the basis of the material before it, the panel considers that not all views are equally significant or equally sensitive to development change. The panel is not persuaded that all of the viewshafts identified in the proposed unitary plan are regionally significant or that any development that penetrates a viewshaft would be inappropriate.”
The panel has given the parties until Friday 31 July to liaise with one another & agree on a work programme & timetable to prepare for a resumed hearing. If they can’t agree, the panel will issue further directions.
Earlier story, 8 June 2015: Viewshafts’ future before panel in 3 weeks
Attribution: Hearing panel guidance.