TLA Approaches: Managing Effects of Rural Subdivision and Development of Peri-urban Lands (2011)

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St Andrews Subdivision, Queenstown

Contents

Introduction

Subdivision is primarily concerned with the changing ownership of land and defining and redefining property rights. Many subdivision activities have only a minor impact on land use. However, the creation of new parcels of land is also accompanied by expectations of associated land use (e.g. a dwelling on a new residential or rural lot). For major subdivisions such as those for greenfield sites, or new rural residential developments, subdivision provides a vital framework for managing land development.

“Peri-urban” describes areas that are in some form of transition from strictly rural to urban. These areas often form the immediate interface between rural and urban areas. They may eventually evolve into urban areas, or they may stay somewhere in between. The majority are on the fringe of established urban areas but they may also be clusters of rural-residential developments within rural landscapes. Peri-urban areas vary widely in their environmental value, ranging from those with comparatively little significance to other areas where the values are of critical importance to the local community, visitors, or in some cases, the whole of New Zealand (for example, the Wakatipu Basin).

These peri-urban and rural areas are under increasing worldwide threat from subdivision, development and overuse. Cities and the people who live in the cities are the main drivers of development pressures on peri-urban areas. It is most often urban dwellers who are looking for a lifestyle block, a holiday home or a new investment opportunity. The desire to live away from the central city or suburbia has increased the demand for subdivision and development in peri-urban landscapes and it is these pressures that need to be managed.

Subdivision and the development of these peri-urban areas must be managed effectively to ensure they do not lose the characteristics/attributes that make them such desirable locations. Within this there has to be a focus on the environmental impacts and issues that derive from the said developments and these must be evaluated before development occurs. Rules and regulations regarding subdivision come under the RMA 1991. The controversial aspect of the issue is largest in the immediate rural area surrounding an urban area as this is where most of the land owners have the most incentive to develop and/or subdivide. Due to the popularity of these areas they are often very costly and as demand for land increases so does the land value. In regard to the Resource Management Act 1991, it is stated in section 31 that Territorial Local Authorities (TLAs) are responsible for:

  • The control of any actual or potential effects of the use, development, or protection of land, including for the purpose of;
  • The avoidance or mitigation of natural hazards; and
the prevention or mitigation of any adverse effects of the storage, use, disposal, or transportation of hazardous substances; and

  • The prevention or mitigation of any adverse effects of the ‘development, subdivision,’ or use of contaminated land:
  • The maintenance of indigenous biological diversity:

Functions of Territorial Authorities

Queenstown, Lake Hayes Estate Subdivision

Dunedin

Dunedin City setting

Dunedin (Māori: Ōtepoti) is the second-largest city in the South Island of New Zealand, and the principal city of the Otago Region. It is considered to be one of the four main urban centres of New Zealand for historic, cultural, and geographic reasons. Dunedin was the largest city by territorial land area until superseded by Auckland on the creation of the Auckland Council in November 2010. Dunedin was the largest city in New Zealand by population until about 1900. The Dunedin urban area lies on the central-eastern coast of Otago, surrounding the head of Otago Harbour. The harbour and hills around Dunedin are the remnants of an extinct volcano. The city suburbs extend out into the surrounding valleys and hills, onto the isthmus of the Otago Peninsula, and along the shores of the Otago Harbour and the Pacific Ocean. The city's largest industry is tertiary education – Dunedin is home to the University of Otago, New Zealand's first university (1869), and the Otago Polytechnic. Students account for a large proportion of the population: 21.6 percent of the city's population was aged between 15 and 24 at the 2006 census, compared to the New Zealand average of 14.2 percent.

View of central Dunedin


The heart of the city lies on the relatively flat land to the west of the head of the Otago Harbour. Here is The Octagon – once a gully, filled in the mid nineteenth century to create the present plaza. The initial settlement of the city took place to the south on the other side of Bell Hill, a large outcrop which had to be reduced in order to provide easy access between the two parts of the settlement. The central city stretches away from this point in a largely northeast-southwest direction, with the main streets of George Street and Princes Street meeting at The Octagon. Here they are joined by Stuart Street, which runs orthogonally to them, from the Dunedin Railway Station in the southeast, and steeply up to the suburb of Roslyn in the northwest. Many of the city's notable old buildings are located in the southern part of this area and on the inner ring of lower hills which surround the central city (most of these hills, such as Maori Hill, Pine Hill, and Maryhill, rise to some 200 metres (660 ft) above the plain).

Overlooking the Taieri Plains


Beyond the inner range of hills lie Dunedin's outer suburbs, notably to the northwest, beyond Roslyn. This direction contains Taieri Road and Three Mile Hill, which between them formed the original road route to the Taieri Plains. The modern State Highway 1 follows a different route, passing through Caversham in the west and out past Saddle Hill. Lying between Saddle Hill and Caversham are the outer suburbs of Green Island and Abbotsford. Between Green Island and Roslyn lies the steep-sided valley of the Kaikorai Stream, which is today a residential and light industrial area. Suburban settlements – mostly regarded as separate townships – also lie along both edges of the Otago Harbour. Notable among these are Portobello and Macandrew Bay, on the Otago Peninsula coast, and Port Chalmers on the opposite side of the harbour. Port Chalmers provides Dunedin's main deep-water port, including the city's container port. The Dunedin skyline is dominated by a ring of (traditionally seven) hills which form the remnants of a volcanic crater. Notable among them are Mount Cargill (700 m/2,300 ft), Flagstaff (680 m/2,230 ft), Saddle Hill (480 m/1,570 ft), Signal Hill (390 m/1,280 ft), and Harbour Cone (320 m/1,050 ft). The hinterland of Dunedin city encompasses a variety of different landforms. To the southwest lie the Taieri Plains, the broad, fertile lowland floodplains of the Taieri River and its major tributary the Waipori. These are moderately heavily settled, and contain the towns of Mosgiel, East Taieri, and Allanton. They are separated from the coast by a range of low hills rising to some 300 metres (980 ft).

Inland from the Taieri Plain is rough hill country. Close to the plain, much of this is forested, notably around Berwick and Lake Mahinerangi, and also around the Silverpeaks Range which lies northwest of the Dunedin urban area. Beyond this, the land becomes drier and opens out into grass and tussock-covered land. A high, broad valley, the Strath-Taieri lies in Dunedin's far northwest, containing the town of Middlemarch, one of the area's few concentrations of population. To the north of the city's urban area is undulating hill country containing several small, mainly coastal, settlements, including Waitati, Warrington, Seacliff and Waikouaiti. State Highway 1 winds steeply through a series of hills here, notably The Kilmog. These hills can be considered a coastal extension of the Silverpeaks Range. To the east, Dunedin City includes the entirety of the Otago Peninsula, a long finger of land that formed the southeastern rim of the Dunedin Volcano. The peninsula is lightly settled, almost entirely along the harbour coast, and much of it is maintained as a natural habitat by the Otago Peninsula Trust. The peninsula contains several fine beaches, and is home to a considerable number of rare species, such as penguins, seals, and shags. Most importantly, it contains the world's only mainland breeding colony of Royal Albatross, at Taiaroa Head on the peninsula's northeastern point.


Dunedin Rural landscape

The following description is contained within the Dunedin City Councils District Plan [1] and gives the councils perception of the land values associated with Rural and Rural Residential Zones. The rural area of the city includes the Rural and Rural Residential Zones and covers more than 318,000 ha, which is approximately 95% of the total area of the city. Physically the rural area is diverse, including:

• The terraces, flats and plains associated with the Taieri, Waitati and Waikouaiti Rivers

• The coastal downs and lowlands from the Taieri Mouth north to Saddle Hill and north of Waitati

• The hills around Dunedin urban area including the Otago Peninsula, Flagstaff, Mt Cargill and the Silverpeaks

• The rolling uplands of the Strath Taieri

• The mountain ranges of Lammermoor, Lammerlaw and Rock and Pillar.

There is only one natural lake in the City (the Sutton Salt Lake). There is also the Logan Burn reservoir on the Rock and Pillar Range and domestic water supply reservoirs adjacent to the urban area of Dunedin. There are a number of rivers in the rural area of the City Two main river systems within the City are the Taieri River (with its principal internal tributaries of the Waipori River, Lee Stream, Deep Stream and Silverstream) and the Waikouaiti River. These, together with the Waitati and Pleasant Rivers, are significant in terms of water management within the City. The water resource, including groundwater aquifers is an essential component of the rural activities and is vital for the potable water supply of the city. The water for Mosgiel and Outram is obtained from the underground bores. The water resource is also of considerable recreation and ecological importance. Zone Descriptions Rural Zone The character of the rural area is dominated by pastoral farming from the grassy lowlands to the tussock high country. This has resulted in a low density of development and a sense of openness throughout much of the rural area. The rural area enhanced by ecological, landscape and recreation values arising from the natural resources of the rural area, including indigenous vegetation, wildlife, wetlands and other water bodies, and values arising from the coastal environment. Built structures that are located in the rural area are of a small size.

Soil quality varies in the city, but there are approximately 12,000ha of high class soils capable of being used intensively to produce a wide variety of plants including horticultural crops. The sustainability of the high class soils resource is at risk from the expansion of residential development. Over the past 20 years the Dunedin rural area has undergone considerable change. Economic trends have generally resulted in rural depopulation and an undermining of the traditional social and economic structure of the rural area. This has not however adversely affected the ability to sustainably manage the natural and physical resources of the rural area for future generations. On the other hand, pressure has increased for the establishment of rural residential development within rural areas, particularly in close proximity to urban areas. This poses a greater threat to sustainable management as land fragmentation associated with rural residential development may prove irreversible and the presence of an increased density of residential development can create long term impediments to primary production activites.

Methods Employed to Control Development - The District Plan

Zoning

Zoning outside of urban areas is generally split into one of two categories; Rural or Rural Residential. Each zone has a different set of rules pertaining to subdivision and development. The purpose of this is to allow specific areas for residential development in rural areas, while protecting the amenity value that they hold.

The Residential development of rural areas is recognised by the District plan as an area that must be carefully managed, however it is appropriate to allow for this development in a Rural Residential Zone, which has the characteristics and capacity to absorb the effects on rural character and amenity values. Many seek to live in rural areas.

The reasons for doing this can include:
Rural Residential boundary

• Enjoyment of the rural lifestyle.

• The high level of rural amenity.

• A location near to work.

• An alternative to urban living.

This lifestyle choice is recognised by the providing for rural residential zones. This enables people to enjoy rural residential living in a situation that gives this lifestyle its essential character, while at the same time avoiding the adverse effects rural residential development has on the amenity and productive capacity of the wider rural areas of the city.

Some parts of the rural area are unsuitable for the higher density of residential development associated with Rural Residential Zones. In particular , areas subject to natural hazards or Landscape Management Areas which, may be sensitive to increased levels of development are considered inappropriate for rural residential expansion. Lifestyle development may also be unsuitable where this may create pressure on the council for the unsustainable expansion of infrastructure such as roading.



District Plan Map of Waitati, North of Duendin. Note the different Zones, include Residential 5 (R5), Rural Residential (RR)




























Issues, Policies and Rules

Subdivision of Rural Land is identified as an issue in the Dunedin City Council District Plan, under the Rural Section. For example, Issue 6.1.2 states that “The fragmentation of rural land can adversely affect the sustainable management of natural and physical resources”<ref name="nick">Dunedin City Council (2011) District Plan Chapter 06 Rural. Accessed 22 September 2011</ref>. This acknowledges that subdivision can have considerable impact on the productive activities that take place on rural land. This is often attributed to the expansion of urban and residential activity into the rural area. Rural area is acknowledged as an important for a range of different stakeholders in the plan, hence for the need to protect its amenity values.

Other issues that are identified in the Rural Section of the District Plan include:

• Certain activities have the potential to adversely affect the character and amenity of the rural area. <ref name="nick"/>

• There is a demand for residential living in a rural environment. <ref name="nick"/>

• Conflict between activities may adversely affect rural productivity. <ref name="nick"/>

• The rural area has natural and physical resources that require protection, including the surface and margins of water bodies, the margins of the coastal marine area, significant indigenous vegetation, fauna and habitats, and significant natural features and landscapes. <ref name="nick"/>


Following on in the structure prescribed by the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA), the District Plan addresses specific policies set out to manage these issues. For example, Policy 6.3.2 states “Sustain the productive capacity of the Rural Zone by controlling the adverse effects of activities”<ref name="nick"/>. This piece of policy explains why this is important; because residential and industrial activity can lead to the loss of productive soils through increased coverage of buildings etc. Another example that relates to zoning is Policy 6.3.4 “Locate Rural Residential Zones in specific areas which are able to accommodate such development without significantly altering the character or adversely affecting the amenity of the rural area and to avoid as much as practicable; Locations subject to potential natural hazards; Or locations within Landscape Management Areas; Or areas that are identified on District Plan Maps 75, 76 and 77 as containing ‘high class soils’; Or areas where development may result in adverse effects on the sustainable provision of infrastructure.”<ref name="nick"/> This policy related directly the provision of zones. Rural Residential Zones are noted as being important, as they provide some space for rural subdivision and urban expansion. However this policy makes it clear that they should only be located in areas that will be deemed to have minimal effect on the amenity value of an area.

Further examples of policies included in this section the district plan include:

• Require rural subdivision and activities to be of a nature, scale, intensity and location consistent with maintaining the character of the rural area and to be undertaken in a manner that avoids, remedies or mitigates adverse effects on rural character.<ref name="nick"/>

• Ensure residential activity in the rural area occurs at a scale enabling self-sufficiency in water supply and on-site effluent disposal.<ref name="nick"/>

• Avoid, remedy or mitigate the adverse effects of buildings, structures and vegetation on the amenity of adjoining properties.<ref name="nick"/>


Finally the District Plan has a section full of specific rules and regulations that are designed to enforce these policies. These specific rules are designed to protect rural land from the issues identified earlier in the District Plan. There is a different set of rules attached to the Rural Zone and the Rural Residential Zone which reflects the difference in intended use.

One of the most important parts of this section is to what extent certain activities are permitted, such as subdivision. Subdivision in the rural zone is permitted to some extent, but comes with several conditions.

Under Rule 6.5.1, both “New Residential Activity” and “Commercial Residential Activity” are both prohibited activities. As mentioned earlier, this is to prevent development outside of the Rural Residential zones. However under Rule 6.5.2, “Residential activity at a density of one residential unit per site, provided that the minimum area of the site is not less than 15 ha” is a permitted activity.<ref name="nick"/>

However according to the DDC’s Subdivision section of the District plan, subdivision itself (not to be confused with residential activity) is a Restricted Discretionary Activity, both the Rural and Rural Residential Zones. According to Rule 18.5.1, each site must be equal to 15ha or greater in the Rural Zone, or equal 2ha or greater in the Rural Residential Zone <ref>Dunedin City Council (2011) District Plan Chapter 18 Subdivision Activity </ref>. These come with other conditions attached, relating to access and disposal of storm water and effluent that have to be met. Any activity that does not meet these conditions is therefore considered to be non-complying.


While it might seem straightforward, because subdivision in the Rural Zones is a Restricted Discretionary Activity, everything comes down to the discretion of the Dunedin City Council. This means that how the council assess resource consent applications becomes very important. Some of the key factors they assess consents by include:

• 6.7.3 Amenity Values

(i) The effect that the activity will have on amenity values.

(ii) The option of locating an activity in a zone where that activity is permitted.

• 6.7.4 Cumulative Effect The cumulative effect of the activity on the natural and physical resources of the City including, but not limited to, cumulative adverse effects in relation to:

(i) Amenity values,

(ii) Rural character,

(iii) Natural hazards,

(iv) The provision of infrastructure,

(v) Roading, traffic and safety, or

(vi) Landscape Management Areas or Areas of Significant Conservation Values.

• 6.7.5 Intensity of Activities The hours of the operation and the frequency of the activity in terms of its effect on the amenities of the surrounding environment.

• 6.7.11 High Class Soils The extent to which soils and in particular, high class soils will be taken out of production.

• 6.7.16 Development in Rural Residential Zones In the Rural Residential zones, the Council may consider resource consent applications that provide for flexibility of allotment size. The merits of any application shall be assessed on a case-by-case basis, taking into account, but not limited to, the following:

(i) The extent to which the subdivision configuration is appropriate to enhance the rural amenity and/or to accommodate the physical constraints of the site.

This last clause is worth noting, because it means that if you want to subdivide in the Rural Residential Zone, even if you do not meet the minimum site size, you are still able to argue your case. The issue here is that the flexibility in the plan means that you can convince the council that a subdivision will enhance the rural amenity. The DCC has a definition section under the District Plan, and here they define amenity value as:

“Amenity Values - means those natural or physical qualities and characteristics of an area that contribute to people’s appreciation of its pleasantness, aesthetic coherence, and cultural and recreational attributes.”

The problem here is the ambiguity of this definition. If a developer wishes to subdivide some land in order to build a new development, they merely need to convince the council that the development will contribute to some of the attributes listed here. In the end, everything comes down to the council’s discretion, so in some regards, rules such as needed new subdivisions to be 2ha or greater in Rural Residential Zones are almost meaningless.

The Councils Plan to manage development

The Code of Subdivision and Development

Section 11 of the Resource Management Act requires local authorities to control subdivision through a district plan. The Code of Subdivision and Development sets out the Dunedin City Council’s requirements in relation to the design and construction of subdivision and other developments <ref>http://www.dunedin.govt.nz/__data/assets/pdf_file/0019/153163/CP-Dunedin-Code-of-Subdivision-Aug-2010.pdf</ref>. It uses the New Zealand Standard NZS 4404:2004 as a base document for minimum requirements, and adds amendments that reflect the Council’s goal to encourage innovative approaches to the design of developments that are sensitive to the natural environment. The Code is administered in conjunction with rules in the District Plan, and compliance with its requirements is assessed as part of consideration of subdivision consent applications. The purpose of the Code is to ensure that the design of developments are sensitive to their environment and appropriate for their use. The current Code was approved in August 2010, replacing the previous one that had been in place for 10 years.

Responsibilities for various areas of the Code are spread across several Council departments. The Design and Review Team was established to provide for consistent and coordinated administration of the Code, including ongoing review to ensure it remains up to date. The formation of the Team was in respondence to a submission from a resident arguing the need for standardised and clear implementation of the Code across the Council. The purpose of the Team is also to build understanding and promote use of current best practice in relation to matters in the Code.


The Council does not wish to restrict innovation in developments where this provides for best environmental practice in terms of design and provision of services. Thus alternative methods of compliance may be submitted on a case-by-case basis for consideration by the Council. The Council’s policies are evolving in response to environmental concerns together with service and infrastructure constraints within the City. These include the provision of adequate potable water supplies, treatment and disposal of wastewater, dealing with storm water issues and design of roads. These are all relevant to development planning and need to be taken into account in development proposals.

Alterations to the District Plan

Through the District Plan and the Resource Management Act 1991, the Dunedin City Council allows for different housing densities within the various zones set out in the plan, these housing densities are often very high in central areas and then dramatically lower at the residential/rural zone border. As a result the city is characterised by its compact urban centre and less dense smaller rural settlements. In 1995 the proposed Dunedin District Plan made provisions to enhance the amenities within the CBD and place strict protection and conditions on rural areas to encourage further centralisation, containment and to avoid ad hoc developments such as urban sprawl. However with more people still choosing to move out of the urban centre of Dunedin and the pressure to subdivide from the developers, there was immense strain on the rural areas to provide more land space available, therefore in 2002 the Dunedin City Council made changes to the District Plan to allow for a reduced minimum lot size from 15 to 6 hectares in rural zoned areas and the creation of 230 hectares of new rural-residential land on the outskirts of Dunedin, particularly on the Taieri Plain <ref name="Freeman & Thompson-Fawcett"> Freeman C. & Thompson-Fawcett M., Living Space: Towards Sustainable Settlements in New Zealand, 2003. </ref>. More recently in 2007, was the rezoning of 46 hectares of rural land in East Taieri to a Residential 1 zone as part of Plan Variation 15 - The Mosgiel Residential Expansion, however this caused a great deal of controversy amongst nearby residents and landowners who took the matter to the environment court <ref> http://dcc.squiz.net.nz/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/25565/Residential-Capacity-Study-Report.pdf. </ref>.

There are many other cases similar to this where the DCC has changed the provisions of the plan to accommodate the needs of the proposed activity or subdivision, instead of ruling it out or finding alternatives so it does meet the standards. One of the main purposes of a District plan is to allow for the sustainable development of the region however the City Council relies heavily on the Resource Management Act 1991 to define what sustainable development is which leads to problems as it can be interpreted in many different ways. Although the District plan itself is thoughtful and innovative many argue that the ways in which it is implemented could be improved significantly as they currently lack the strategic vision necessary for the sustainability of the city.

Case study:Expansion in Mosgiel and the Mosgiel East and Taieri East Structure plan and expansion

The Mosgiel East and Tairei East areas are peri-urban areas that untill recently were considered rural. Changes to the zoning by the council has seen these areas changed to residential zones for the development of subdivisions.
Silversprings Subdivision, Wingatui Rd, Mosgiel

Appendix 8.2[2] and 8.5[3] of the District Plan outlines the councils guidlines for subdivison expansion within these area.These guidlines however fall short of expaning how the impacts of subdivision development are to be mitigated. In many instances in the development of the Mosgiel area, it seems that the intent is one of maximum development with little or no impedment from the District Plan.

These areas have historically been centres of horticulture and farming. The district plan also identifies some of the proposed residential development on areas designated as having High Class soils; these soils are referred to in the Plan as a significant resource management issue and as such must be protected.
Soil Map of Mosgiel: source DCC

The expansion of the Mosgiel area has resulted in conflict between those wishing for short term captital gains and those looking towards a longer term gain through the produtive use of the land. It has at times been a heated debate with both sides using the 'Sustainibilty' argument to support their veiws, this concept however has differing meanings and values on both sides of the debate.

One clear fact can be surmised, The loss of high class soil areas to development is highly unlikely to be reversed. The decisions that have made on the Taieri Plains,although made in an attempt to bolster the economic prosperity of the area, have uncertian environmental impacts for the future.

Recent developments

A new residential subdivision on the outskirts of Mosgiel, has won approval from the Dunedin City Council[4]. The development would be on rural land, meaning the subdivision breached district plan rules despite being surrounded by newly rezoned residential developments. However, the application suggested applying the residential zoning rules already in force for areas surrounding the site instead, which would be "consistent with all other development in the immediate area".The council's plan change 15 <ref>http://www.dunedin.govt.nz/your-council/district-plan/district-plan-changes/mosgiel-expansion</ref>the residential expansion of Mosgiel, had seen land around the site rezoned, leaving behind an "isolated pocket" of rural land that was also "clearly intended" to be used for residential purposes.

There has been recent controversy over who should pay for the provision of infrastructure needed to support new subdivision developments such as the one in the Mosgiel area. The Dunedin City Council proposed a change that would hold the developers responsible for paying for the extra services required <ref>http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/173559/developers-take-dcc-over-charges</ref>. However this has come under intense criticism by local development firms who have argued the move will restrict Dunedin's potential for growth, and the increased associated economic benefits. According to the Otago Daily Times the proposed charges could range from $5944 for a new house in outlying parts of the city to $40,650 for one in West Taieri. If implemented as planned the proposal would mean the council could collect up to $46 million, opposed to the $11.8 million under the existing policy. In response, a group of developers headed by Tom Richardson have established the Construction Industry and Developers Association, which plans to make their opposition to the costs heard by the council. The hearings will take place in early November after initially being postponed due to the August snow. <ref>http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/175424/hearings-put</ref> http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/137376/developer-may-drop-subdivision

Queenstown

Queenstown City Setting

The history of settlement in Queenstown began in 1862 when gold was first discovered in the near by rivers; this brought many European settlers to the area. The end of the gold rush saw a huge decline in the population to around 200 people. Today Queenstown is one of the fastest growing areas in New Zealand this can be seen by the census from 2001 to 2006, when the areas population increased by 30%, this has led to concerns for the management of growth in the district. The surrounding environment is very fragile as a result of its uniqueness and the on-going pressure from development.

Queenstown in the early seventies

Queenstown’s geography is built around an inlet called Queenstown Bay on Lake Wakatipu. It comprises of a long thin Z-shaped lake formed by glacial processes the basin has many microclimates, vegetation patterns, and habitats for exotic and indigenous flora and fauna. The towns main Centre lies in the shadow of The Remarkables and the Crown Range, these mountains form natural barriers surrounding the town. The district comprises of many small towns and developments that under the district plan must retain their growth from any future developments.

Modern day Queenstown

There are a number of issues associated with the amount of growth that is occurring in the Queenstown area. The main one of these centred on tourism being a primary sector in the town’s economy. The council recognises that the scenery and environment are key in what brings tourist to Queenstown, therefore the environment must be protected from inappropriate development or any development that might degrade the “look” of the environment. Other issues include the intensification of use of land for housing and the need for better public transport.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) are in charge of preparing plans and management strategies to cope with the vast amounts of growth in the area. Some of these include the District plan, which is established under the framework of the RMA (1991) and the Growth Management Strategy prepared to help guide the community and council. This document was a response to the Tomorrow Queenstown Community workshop, a meeting designed to incorporate Queenstown’s residents opinions into future plans for their town.

The issue of uncontrolled growth in Queenstown is thought to be a threat to the visitors and residents currently living and visiting and for future generations. An assessment of current strategies is essential for managing growth into the future.

Growth Management Strategy for the Queenstown Lakes District

The Queenstown District Council has adopted a number of different methods when managing peri-urban development. These approaches include a Growth Opinions survey carried out in 2004, aimed at consulting the residents of the Queenstown area on what they thought Queenstown would look like in 20 years time.

• Growth Opinion Survey: “How will Wanaka and Queenstown look, feel, function as they develop over the next 20 years?”

• Tomorrows Queenstown Community Workshop helped to formulate this document and produced a number of objectives.

Within this strategy are 3 sections, these cover the growth pressures and issues that the Queenstown area is currently facing. Section two sets out management strategies to deal with the rapid growth of the area. Finally section 3 looks at how the strategies will be managed to insure they are having a positive impact for Queenstown.

Section one:

This section gives a general overview of the Queenstown District. This area is one of the fastest growing areas in New Zealand. As shown in the census from 2001 to 2006 the areas population increased by 30%, this has led to concerns on the capacity of infrastructure in the area. As the primary sector in the area is based around tourism, there is increased pressure for adequate homes and services to accommodate for the influx of both international tourists and workers throughout the year.

The Queenstown economy is about providing a high quality experience to its residents and visitors. The Council believes that if the growth pressures, which the area currently faces, are left unmanaged there will be a significant impact in the present and for the future generations of Queenstown. The council does not want to expand to far into the rural areas that have not been designated for development already because it will result in environmental degradation. The environment is something that underpins the success of the Queenstown District. To avoid this the council has suggested a more intensive use of the existing developed land. The council will aim at providing more certainty of the timing and location of future developments and the transport infrastructure that will complement this.

The Growth Opinions survey form 2002, highlighted the fact that there should be careful consideration of the location of particular activities within the C.B.D. There must be particular regard taken for the development of primary schools, libraries, and open spaces, and for the affordability of housing and their urban design. There must also be particular attention paid to the pattern of growth and public transport to support the town’s capacity of residents and visitors all year round.

There is a need for a wider set of growth management tools as there is a significant amount of pressure put on the council from the growth of Queenstown. This in the past has been done through the district plan, prepared under the Resource Management Act (1991). This was done through putting restrictions on land use zoning and associated development however these are not sufficient when achieving community goals. The district plan will not always provide a single rule for all; there can always be exceptions to the rules. This has led to Councils using different types of management tools to just the district plan. One of these is to use Growth Management plans, these look to alter the fundamental dynamics of land use, opposed to catching developers once development has begun. There are two important tools to help shape land use patterns these are:

1. The location of new infrastructure such as roading and its impact for future development near it or along it. Issues must be assessed such as the establishment of the new road and if it will cause congestion in the future as the continuation of development occurs.

2. The extent to which financial charges are placed on land use and infrastructure and the likely impacts this will have for the future of the land or infrastructure. Assessment of the outcomes, if they encourage or discourage development.


All management strategies and plans must be reviewed to ensure that they remain consistent with detailed policy as it is developed and adopted. The review of The Growth Management Strategy will be based on work undertaken over the past 3 years .In 2002, the Council initiated community-based planning workshops for all of the settlements in the District. These workshops helped to define the community outcomes that form the basis of the management strategy plan. In 2004, the Council started the Growth Options Study that looked in more detail at the growth pressures facing the main settlements in the district, and possible responses. In 2011 the strategy was reviewed as part of the community outcomes for 2020.

Section two:

Section two aims to set out the main directions, which the council will take when managing the growth issues, set out in section one. The core growth management strategies are based on the community’s outcomes developed under the Local Government Act. These outcomes were developed between 2002 and 2003 through a number of consultation processes designed to incorporate the residents of Queenstown’s views into future plans. These outcomes are now incorporated into the Council’s Long Term Council Community Plan (CCP).

Management Strategies

The flow chart of principles shows the community outcomes and the growth management principles which the QLDC will apply when managing growth in the Queenstown district.

Principle one: Growth is located in the right places

Under this principle all growth must not harm the existing natural environment. The settlements will be distinct and within defined urban growth boundaries. The town centres will be restricted to Queenstown, Frankton and Wanaka and existing special zoning defined outside of these areas. These main centres will be focal points for growth of business and accommodation. Growth in the smaller settlements such as Cardrona will be limited to a capacity that can be supported by services in the area. Areas around the urban fringes that are rural in nature will be kept this way retaining their rural characteristics. The growth of the airport in Frankton will be closely monitored ensuring that conflict is kept to a minimum between the operation of the airport and residents.

Principle two: The type and mix of growth meets current and future needs

The mix of the right growth is crucial for the economy of the Queenstown District. Maintaining a good mix of accommodation and industrial land is key when ensuring that housing, and goods and services remain affordable. All settlements will have a main hub of business, transport, retail and community services ensuring there is an even mix. There will be a dominance of high-density housing that is not dominated by visitor accommodation. The high-density building will ensure a sense of community is maintained within the settlements. Within the areas around the CDB there will be strict zoning on retail and industrial areas, this will be done through regular amendments to the district plan. The plan will also set out restrictions on height of buildings in the CBD maintaining a view of the surrounding mountains, as these are key asset for Queenstown.

Principle three: Infrastructure is provided which is sustainable and supports high quality development in the right places

There needs to be infrastructure that meets the needs of visitors and residents. Infrastructure includes any, water, storm water, and transportation (public services) that are required. Transportation is key when looking at the patterns of growth of a settlement, as people tend to locate along main transport links to and from the city. The council will promote sustainable transport infrastructure that will reduce the effects of growth on the environment and maintain the amenity values of the urban and rural sectors. This principle compliments principle two as the high density development will mean that it will be easier to establish transportation routes to and from the developments. The main focus will be on public transport and not transport by private car.

Principle four: High quality development is demanded

The design of housing and future developments will be non negotiable with the council if Queenstown is to remain a popular tourist attraction. The council will encourage good innovative design that is environmentally friendly, such as energy efficient measure of water management. The designs are to give the area a unique identity through attractive open spaces and town squares that are safe. Subdivision layouts that respect the landscape and adhere with the principles of high quality urban design by creating compact and connected neighborhoods are required.

Principle five: The costs of development are made transparent, and economic signals encourage positive outcomes and discourage adverse effects

The cost of development must help to pay for the costs of infrastructure. The council is ensuring that public transport costs stay down to encourage the use of the transport network.

Principle six: Integrated planning

There is an increasing need for the council and the community to work together on the future needs of the area. There must be involvement of all stakeholders in the community at all stages of the planning process. This will involve the establishment of new legislation in the area to achieve more integrated outcomes that will recognize the demands of the Queenstown district. The council will need to liaise with other authorities much more closely such as the transport agency to determine beneficial strategies for the increased growth demands on transportation.

Section three:

This section outlines the main actions that will be undertaken to implement the strategies that were previously mentioned. It also provides ideas of monitoring methods of the strategies once implemented. Within this document the council have produced tables that prioritise the objectives set out above. The table also provides relevant motoring techniques for the strategies into the future.

• High on the priority list is the containment of urban growth within defined boundaries set out in the district plan, these boundaries are based on the Tomorrows Queenstown meetings. The boundaries will be monitored by ensuring there is not further urban style development and no expansion of existing dwellings in the Wakatipu Basin.

• The second principle looked the location of different types of development. The main issue that this strategy is targeting is the use of space for appropriate services that will not lead to increases in house prices for example. The council has proposed that 30-40% of all new visitor accommodation will be concentrated in Frankton ensuring there is an adequate amount of accommodation without forcing the prices of house in the town up, due to demands for visitor accommodation in areas for resident housing.

• The third principle looks at the need for increased public transport in the Queenstown district. This will be done by ensuring that the Otago Regional Council includes appropriate policies in their regional plans and by working with transit New Zealand to ensure the development of the Frankton area. This will be monitored by meeting the 2011 deadline of 10% of traffic between Queenstown and Frankton being public transport.

• The fourth principle is associated with high quality development, relating to the design of all new developments and housing. The QLDC is in charge of supplying adequate information to developers on innovative designs. This strategy will be further implemented by plan change 10 which will ensure designs are to an appropriate standard for the area.

• The fifth principle ensures that the costs of added developments on transportation is accounted for by developers paying a certain per cent of costs for things such as roading for the wider area. There will also be increased costs established for road users to push towards increased use of public transport. Ensuring that 30% of all trips between Frankton and Queenstown are either by foot, bike or public transport has monitored this. This will be up on 20% form 2001.

• The final principle looks at integrated planning and the positive impacts this will have for the residents and visitors into the future for Queenstown. The council is aiming to have more communication with the public by having regular forums on growth in Queenstown. Education will be done in places such as high schools to widen debates on how Queenstown should grow. There will also be an establishment of new legislation through Central Government as they acknowledge the different needs of individual regions in New Zealand. The council will then monitor this by reviewing plans and legislation on a regular basis.

To view a copy of the document click here Growth Management Strategy

Effectiveness of The Growth Management Strategy

This document is an alternative way to manage growth that is not done through legislation. The council has highlighted areas in which there are faults in the District Plan and has tried to fix this. The document is highly based around public consultation, an aspect that is flawed in New Zealand's planning process.The document is highly concerned with the protection of the environment as it is one of the main assets for the Queenstown area. Another key feature is also the emphasis put on the need for public transport in the area between main hubs of development. The document is working towards a more proactive framework before things such as public transport become an issue. It is a good starting point for managing growth in a different way than has been previously done, by means of legislation and district plans which are primarily reactive.

The District Plan

The District Plan, in conjunction with the RMA 1991, is the primary tool used by the QLDC to manage development in peri-urban areas. It covers an area with a wide range of land uses, from the urban setting of Queenstown to the relatively untouched mountain region. It attempts to manage the effects of development through a mixture of zoning, conditions and the consent process.

The plan was notified in 1995 to considerable public interest. Approximately 4000 submitters made points on 22,000 issues (6) and the revised plan was released in 1998 with several significant changes as a result of these suggestions, before becoming fully operative on the 10th December 1999. Changes in both local and central government policy, including significant amendments to the RMA, has meant major shifts in both policy direction and implementation since then. We have seen a movement from a relatively restricted notified plan, to the current permissive revised plan.

Zoning

Zoning is a technique used to divide areas of land or water into distinct areas. It has long played an important part in the management of growth and development by way of specific rules which apply to each zone and attempt to control effects, activities and uses. It plays a key role in the QLDC's management scheme, by 2001 1260 hectares in the Wakitipu Basin were zoned for rural living purposes and 1655 new lots were created as a controlled activity. The region is still experiencing rapid growth and this regime is an attempt to 'set out the envisioned patterns of settlement' <ref name="Rural Living Zones Monitoring Report"/>.

The District Plan creates a set of activities appropriate for each zone or area. Because of this somewhat tailored approach, environmental constraints can be provided for and the QDLC has greater control over what goes where. The District Plan reiterates several times the idea that some areas are less able to ‘absorb’ the effects of development, burgeoning population and urbanization. The use of this land is carefully managed with strict conditions. Likewise, some areas are much more able to support growth and this land is identified by zones such as ‘High Density Residential Zone and the rules are correspondingly looser. For example, high-density development is encouraged and provided for in areas close to urban centre’s and transport routes. This method of urban consolidation can be considered a tool for management peri-urban lands because it allows the much needed growth and development to take place without encroaching on the rural areas. The identification of areas can also help manage the effects of peri-urban development as pre-emptive strategies can be employed in relation to infrastructure and other growth related conditions.


Examples of Zones in the QDLC District Plan

• Rural General

• Rural Lifestyle

• Open Space Zone

• High Density Residential Zone

• Rural Visitor Zone

• Resort Zone


The zones that are of interest to us in looking at strategies employed to manage peri-urban areas are the:

• Rural Residential Zones and sub-zones eg Ferry Hill

• Special Zones

• Deferred Rural Lifestyle (Buffer Zone)


In zoning these areas the QLDC has also created Urban Growth Boundary which establishes distinct urban edges. This helps to contain urban sprawl but also manage the effects because it signals the intended urban limits, so like zoning, allows for future planning and management. There are currently proposed changes to this Urban Growth Boundary.

Deferred Rural Lifestyle (Buffer) Zone

The Deferred Rural Lifestyle (Buffer) Zone plays a similar role. It is an attempt to place limits to the expansion of peri-urban development by creating a buffer between suburban and rural areas. This zone employs District Plan rules in conjunction with covenants volunteered by landowners in order to place further restrictions on development and thus ensure sprawl can’t creep out over time. It contains much stricter constraints than those found in most peri-urban zones.

Rural Residential Zones

A Rural Residential Zone is based upon several key objectives:

• To provide opportunities for rural living

• To ensure self-sufficiency in infrastructure terms

• An emphasis on rural amenity

• Site specific considerations

• To provide a transition from urban land uses to rural pastoral land uses

They are areas that have been identified as having the ability to accommodate further development without impacting severely on the landscape values and also on the basis of submissions on the plan that such areas would be appropriate. They are essentially areas which have been earmarked for development, however the QLDC maintains the ability to impose conditions which may help manage the effects of the development. This is because subdivision is controlled in the Rural Lifestyle zone meaning that if criteria is met, the council are unable to refuse consent, but may attach conditions. Because of that, developing is easier here than in a Rural General Zone but more difficult than a High Density Residential Zone and the cost of consents for this zone is considerably less than those in Rural General zone. Mainly a result of consents that fail to meet conditions such as minimum lot size being granted anyway, meaning less litigation costs as appeals are not an option. With the exception of Bob's Cove subzone, subdivision is permitted to 4000 square meters. Like many other zones, the design is controlled and must compliment the existing environment.

Commercial activities are predominantly non-complying, this helps manage the development of this land by maintaining rural character and focusing economic development in the existing urban areas. In the Bob’s Cove subzone, all commercial activities with the exception of farm and garden produce sales, are considered to be non-complying. And in other Rural Residential zone’s the max gross floor area of these non-residential activities shall not exceed 40m2. Another District Plan requirement that demonstrates the intention of the QLDC to reduce density and create a transition area between rural and urban is the setback of boundaries. The Rural Lifestyle Zone requires 10m in sharp comparison to the High Density Residential zone of 4.5m, with that of the Rural Residential being somewhere in between at 6m.

These zones are also important in managing the effects of encroaching urban areas because they reduce the ability to further subdivide in the future as the land has already been 'fragmented into urban living style lots. <ref name="Rural Living Zones Monitoring Report"/>


Special Zoning

A special zone is a zone applied to by a private applicant for the re-zoning of a specific piece of land in accordance to the current district plan. The Queenstown District Council (QLDC) has three types of Special Zones, including resort zones, rural visitor zones and general development. These special zones require notification but it makes it possible for a developer to get around things like minimum lot sizes. QLDC provides a framework within the district plan with regards to the development of peri-urban lands. Some developments are given their own Special Zone within the plan that gives them different resource management issues. With an example of Quail Rise Zone in the Special Zones section of the district plan this writing will look into how effective the council has been in the development of peri urban lands.

It is said in a report written in 2002 that “The primary control mechanism is a structure plan covering a special zone area, which enables various activities to occur on a location basis...” <ref>N.T. Mc Donald, Subdivisions: New Techniques for Addressing Old Problems, 2002.</ref>. It was not possible to find out when Quail Rise was made a Special Zone by the QLDC however it is clear to see that it is possible for developers to get around some of the district plan requirements for sub development. This is seen in a 2010 report for an amended private plan change request where the developer is trying to alter the wording for the Quail Rise Special Zone. These are the words from the actual report compiled by Vivian Espie Ltd. “The Quail Rise zone provides for low density residential and rural residential living in a sustainable manner...” <ref name="Vivian Espie Ltd">Vivian Espie Ltd., Quail Rise Estate Extension, Amended Private Plan Change Request. Proposed Plan Change 37, 2010.</ref>. The italisized wording is one of the proposed plan changes, where the original rural residential characteristic that was first granted consent. The Special Zone is split into 5 residential zones with an average minimum lot size of 1500m^2 over the 5 zones, however zone RR must have no more than 1 residential unit per 4000m^2. Then the question is asked, is it possible for developers to change this after the consent is already granted. Yes it is possible, when you have a Special Zone for residential development on peri-urban lands. It is however apparent that the requested plan change is still currently under appeal by the QLDC. The request for changes gets worse the more you read, with 12.15.5.1 Site standards I Structural plan b) being taken out completely, this seems like the developer wants complete control over the development, “Residential Activities Area RR - the use of this area is restricted to Residential Accommodation (and Visitor Accommodation as a discretionary activity) provided that no more than one residential unit may be established per 4000m² of site area.” <ref name="Vivian Espie Ltd" />, this is trying to be extracted from the current plan, which would mean a possibly significant increase in the density of housing throughout Quail Rise. It is however apparent that Section 15 in the district plan has given Quail Rise Special Zone a minimum lot size of 1500m^2. There is a possibility that to get a Special Zoning the developer made the minimum lot sizes larger in the RR zone so as to get resource consent and Is now trying to change it back to the minimum lot size, therefore decreasing lot size back to the original average lot size of 1500m^2, and making a whole lot more money by being able to sell more lots. The original maximum number of residential developments was to be 183 residential units, however in the requested plan change there is a total of 234 residential units.

Quail Rise Special Zone

It would be recommended that the council look at their Growth management plan, so as to realise that they cannot accept changes for example Quail Rise reneging on their original consent of 4000m^2 lot sizes back down to their recommendation of an average of 1500m^2. It may be a wiser approach for the council to change Section 15 of the District Plan in regards to minimum lot size for the RR zone within Quail Rise Special Zone to a minimum of 4000m^2. This would help in the councils management because then they would know that a developer cannot change their consent and allow for what is called “Low density development” when it is higher density than what was initially expected. The council does still have the right to say no to the minimum lot size, however they set a precedence when they signed off on the 1500m^2 average lot size making it easier for the developer to argue their case for smaller lots.

Criticisms

Criticisms of zoning center around it being inflexible and overly directive. QLDC have attempted to mitigate this through the implementation of sub-zones which recognise the need for appropriate development opportunities within larger zones and allow for further management of the tensions between the need for development and the needs of the highly value environment. However they must be careful to not go to far and end up making things overly complicated. It is a huge task for a relatively small TLC, so it must be ensured that they have the capacity and resources to undertake such a scheme.

A monitoring report released by the QLDC in January 2010 <ref name="Rural Living Zones Monitoring Report"> Queenstown Lakes District Council. Monitoring Report on the Rural Living Zones of the Queenstown Lakes District Plan. January, 2010. </ref> suggested that although the plan 'contemplated' growth and urban expansion, it was not clear whether this would be by way of plan changes or the granting of resource consents. It also questioned the effectiveness of the Rural Living zones because of the large number of non-complying consents granted. Particularly in regard to Plan standards such as minimum lot size. With a significant number of developments on sections below the minimum lot size in areas that have been subdivided to urban densities, not Rural Living densities.

caption: Number of Dwellings on Rural Residential Sized Sections in the Rural Living Zone

The QLDC has identified that expansion of rural areas into Rural living areas is a real issue in the district and the seemingly arbitrary zone boundaries, weak and ambiguous policy objectives and the granting of non-complying consents which undermine the legitimacy of the plan, all contribute to the issues the District faces today with regard to encroachment of urban lands. Furthermore, despite attempts in the District Plan to ensure developments are self sufficient, this is not always the case instead they are dealt with on a 'pragmatic basis' <ref name="Rural Living Zones Monitoring Report"/>. Furthermore, 16% of consents granted between 2000 and 2008 were non-complying <ref name="Rural Living Zones Monitoring Report"> Queenstown Lakes District Council. Monitoring Report on the Rural Living Zones of the Queenstown Lakes District Plan. January, 2010. </ref> , if the regime was working as it is supposed to then non-complying consents granted would be low.

One of the main tools employed by the QDLC in the past was a density model using minimum lot sizes and activity status, however concerns that this would lead to poor design due to lot boundaries that don’t follow the natural contours of the land has seen a move towards to more design based solutions. Rural zones have no minimum lot size, in an attempt to encourage lot layouts that are in response to their environment. Similarly, in an attempt to concentrate development in already urbanized areas, there are no density rules or minimum lot sizes in the High Density Residential Zone. However peri-urban zones still maintain minimum lot sizes. This had led to a dispersed settlement pattern as opposed to clusters which may be less visually invasive and would maintain the rural amenity values in much of the area. Effectively, instead of reducing the appearance of density in these areas, it has created a somewhat suburban environment that spills onto rural landscape.

There are also several anomalies apparent in the plan. In the Rural Living Zone the minimum lot size for a subdivision is 600m2, however if the development is undertaken prior to subdivision, the minimum lot size shrinks to 450m2. Another response to the effects of the rigidity of rules relating to lot size, is rules imposed on subdivisions that are aimed a creating a diversity of allotment sizes and sub-zoning so that they can be utilized for a number of different rural and residential activities. Such as that in place at the Rural Residential zone north of Lake Hayes.


The Resource Consent Process

The statutory regime that governs this process is set out in the RMA 1991 and implemented by the QLDC. They govern the approval of both building permits and resource consents. A resource consent is formal approval required in order to undertake building, development or resource use activities. Activities that aren't expressly permitted or specifically authorised by the District Plan require a resource consent.

As the zoning in the Queenstown District is extensive with very specific rules, no development or subdivision will be a permitted activity. Because consent is required for any activity classified under the District Plan as controlled, discretionary or non-complying, the process plays a key role in managing the development of peri-urban lands because it not only establishes whether or not the development will go ahead but also determines what conditions are attached to development. With the tensions between ensuring the economic well being of the town and maintain the quality of the fragile environment as well as the QLDC repeatedly stating in their District Plan that they seek to mitigate the effects of development, a lot of emphasis is put on design solutions and compromise as opposed to denying the consent. This means the conditions enclosed in the District Plan are increasingly important.

There are two types of resource consent – land use and subdivision. They follow much the same process, only slightly adjusted in places due to the difference in scale and therefore significance of the activity

The Process

Step One

The application is lodged along with a scheme plan, AEE and explanatory report that contains information required by the QLDC in its District Plan. It is then assessed in accordance with the District Plan and RMA and if permits are required, then they may work in tandem with the Otago Regional Council on these matters. Once the TLA has received the required information, they are then in a position to make a decision on how the activity should be classed and what conditions will be imposed under s220.

Step Two

The applicant then must comply with the conditions outlined by the council. These conditions will vary depending on what zone the subdivision is located in and what the District Plan outlines. A surveyor will then define the allotments and prepare the title plan for the final submission to the Council and Land Information new Zealand.

Step Three

The TLA then confirms that the conditions have been complied with. The plan may be approved even though some conditions are yet to be met. A supply certificate is then issued confirming the consent authority is satisfied the imposed conditions have been met.

Step Four

The consent is approved and lodged with Land Information New Zealand

Impact on Management

Apart from providing the legal framework by which permission is granted to undertake activities, the RMA’s main influence on the development of peri-urban lands would be the scope it gives TLA’s, through the imposition of conditions, to control the type, scale, size and environmental and visual effects of development at both an individual or zoned level. It therefore works in tandem with the District Plan to manage these areas and mitigate the long term effects.

It also manages the effects of development through the s108 requirement of an Assessment of Environmental Effects (AEE) which is then analysed by the council. Because AEE’s should correspond with the scale and significance of a development, subdivisions should be of significant detail and are required to include information regarding engineering, services and infrastructure. They should cover a wide range of effects, from short to long term, positive and negative, cumulative effects and any reverse sensitivity effects. They cover social, environmental and economic impacts and the scope of these must also be assessed.

Because of the detail, particularly with larger subdivisions, AEE’s should provide an extra tool in which to manage the effects of development because the information provides the council with an opportunity to plan in advance and put in place long-term strategies and make provisions for

Case Study: Queenstown’s Five Mile/Frankton Flats Development

The five-mile development is well known in Queenstown as an eyesore as you enter the town. This empty site is on the periphery of the airport and the popular subdivision Lake Hayes Estate. The land was once considered peri-urban and a developer sought to subdivide the area enough to house 10,000 people and include a shopping center complex. The initial development went into receivership in 2008 and is now best known for the large unfinished underground carpark it left behind, commonly referred to as ‘Hendo’s hole’.

The site of the Queenstown Five Mile Development (Frankton Flats)

Frankton is a growth area for the Queenstown Lakes district. Due to its flat topography, transport linkages and proximity to other surrounding development, Frankton has greater potential to absorb development than other parts of Queenstown. Though this wasn’t the case in the original five-mile development plan there is now hope that the new proposed 7.8ha development at Frankton Flats will be more of a success. The current plan is to create a ‘big box’ retail complex including a countdown, multiplex cinema, department store, fashion precinct, office space and apartments. <ref>http://www.odt.co.nz/your-town/queenstown/165653/frankton-project-gains-momentum</ref> The Queenstown Lakes District Council created a list of zoning rules specifically for the Frankton Flats development under Section 12, with emphasis on the zone will being promoted in such a way as to encourage the design of the built form to have due regard to the surrounding outstanding natural landscape and views of it. The zone must seek to achieve maximum flexibility within the limitations of those constraints necessary in setting the appropriate environmental standards.

The development of the Frankton Flats area will result in a strong retail competitor for those businesses already established in the Remarkables Park Area located on the other side of the airport. QLDC has prepared a private plan change to the Remarkables Park Special Zone ( Plan Change 34 ) that will rezone additional land into the Remarkables Park Special Zone. News of this additional land has led to the community questioning the development of the Frankton Flats area and if it is really necessary for another development. However the Remarkables Park developer Alastair Porter has stated although the company had in previous years opposed plan changes to create a special development zone in the Five Mile area, there was now a firm focus on growing Remarkables Park in line with Queenstown's actual growth patterns. <ref>http://www.remarkablespark.com/news/five-mile-hub-s-viability-slammed/</ref> Plan Change 34 does not appear to be in accordance with the existing District Plan or growth management or urban design strategies. Debra Lawson (QLDC, CEO) said “Ensuring that the community had a voice on Frankton Flats development was critical for a number of reasons, including the future development of retail and the impact on existing retail at Frankton and in the Queenstown central business district… In my view, Remarkables Park has delivered a quality development that has fulfilled community needs. However, council wants to consider all future development at Frankton Flats in the context of a process that involves a good outcome for the entire area.” <ref>http://www.odt.co.nz/news/queenstown-lakes/162272/queenstown-park-plan-too-weak-council</ref>

The rapid pace of change in Queenstown is just one of many complex issues in terms of growth and development. Between October 1998 and June 2001 QLDC had approved 799 new rural allotments, of which approximately 60 percent (480) were within the Wakatipu Basin. In addition, QLDC had zoned approximately 1260 hectares in the Wakatipu Basin for rural living purposes. These zonings provided for up to 1655 new lots as a controlled activity. At the time it was recognized this development would result in significant cumulative changes to the landscape and pose significant challenges in terms of funding and developing appropriate infrastructure for the Basin. <ref>http://www.pce.parliament.nz/assets/Uploads/Reports/pdf/Paradise_full.pdf</ref> The original attempted development of the five-mile area is a great example of this. The lack of funding for the developer resulted in his bankruptcy and failure of the subdivision. In order to ensure this new ‘Frankton Flats’ development does not meet the same end it is very important for Queenstown Lakes District Council to use all tools to manage the complexity of the development not just implementing the RMA in the district plan.

Conclusions

Each TLA operates under the direction of the RMA, however each have their own individual strategies on how to deal with development of peri-urban lands. Both face similar issues when it comes to development of peri-urban lands. The process appears to be flawed and differing interpretations of the District Plans result in variations to the rules when it comes to developments.

Regardless of how regulated the District Plan is, it is still only a guideline and at times the decisions made by TLA’s undermine the intent of the principles of the document such as sustainability, environmental protection and amenity value.

The main issues facing TLA’s in effectively managing the development of peri-urban lands

• Lack of consistency in the decision making process leading to a lack of integrity in applying the District Plans

• Ad hoc management of development in peri-urban areas

• Important concepts being open to interpretation because of their subjective nature eg aesthetic values, amenity values, sustainability

• Differing values of place based on social constructs

• The lack of resources within the TLA to deal with the complex issues presented by peri-urban development

• Demand to maintain economic growth

• Communication between central and local government

• Lack of transparency in some decision making processes

• Absence of long term vision

• The need for legislation that will achieve more integrated outcomes

• Problems regarding who meets the ongoing costs of infrastructure. Even if developers meet start up costs, it’s the council’s responsibility in the long term.

Recommendations:

• The consent granting process must make decisions that are consistent with issues and policies indentified in the district plan.

• Commitment to a long term vision such as Growth Management Strategy established by the QLDC

• Maintain the rural amenity of peri-urban areas by encouraging lot layouts that are in response to the local environment and create a cluster pattern of development as opposed to a dispersed one.

• For the QLDC to move away from focusing on mitigating the effects and instead reject the majority of non-complying consents

• Implement a self-evaluation program that enables easy public input on perceived success of the TLA’s management of peri-urban areas.

• Improve the monitoring of environmental outcomes and impacts resulting from subdivisions and development

• DCC improve communication

• In Queenstown, rezone more areas to Open Space in order to provide a greater buffer than the Rural Residential zone currently provides.

• The creation of more provisional public spaces and green belts.

• Increasing public participation in the planning process. The DCC could follow the QLDC’s lead and undertake large-scale community planning exercises.


References

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