5. Metropolitan Council District Plans
Metropolitan councils had a relatively high number of urban design provisions in their district plans. Of the operative plans assessed, all included provisions that addressed over 60 per cent of the urban design sub-criteria. The three largest cities assessed (Manukau, Waitakere and Wellington) all had district plans that addressed over 80 per cent of the urban design sub-criteria, once relevant plan changes were taken into account.
The majority of metropolitan council plans covered the following urban design sub-criteria:
- amenity: provisions that promoted the retention of urban amenity values
- character: identification, protection and enhancement of indigenous vegetation, provisions that promote or retain a sense of place, protection and enhancement of urban water bodies, identification and protection of distinctive landforms
- commerce: provision of home-based businesses, provision of design controls to enhance shopping/working/living experiences in town and neighbourhood centres, management of large format retail developments, provision of mixed-use opportunities in town and neighbourhood centres.
Urban design sub-criteria dealt with by only one of the metropolitan council plans were:
- collaboration: private–public partnerships
- custodianship: water-saving devices
- open space: clear boundaries between public and private open space, integrated stormwater and open space
- urban growth management: reuse of brownfield sites and buildings, collaboration between regional and territorial authorities.
5.1 Case study: Manukau City District Plan
Manukau City Council is a metropolitan council with 329,814 residents (2006 Census). It is the third largest and fastest growing city in New Zealand and it is expected that growth pressures will continue for some time. The operative plan and relevant plan changes include a high number of urban design provisions. Eighty-eight per cent of the sub-criteria were addressed in the plans.
A large number of provisions in the District Plan address urban growth and amenity. Several provisions provide for a variety of housing types and section sizes, allow for higher residential densities around town centres, and allow increased density in association with provision of open space.
Although not all of these issues are dealt with on a city-wide basis, the Flat Bush section of the Plan, in particular, includes provisions relating to:
- management of large format retail developments
- protection and enhancement of urban water bodies
- green networks that link public and private open space
- low-impact stormwater
- secure transport networks and streets
- sense of place
- public–private partnerships.
5.2 Case study: Wellington City urban design plan changes
Wellington City Council is a metropolitan council with a population of around 190,500. The city continues to experience strong population growth and a trend towards inner-city living. The District Plan became operative in 2000. Since 2007, several plan changes have been introduced with a focus on urban design. These reflect the Council’s ongoing recognition of the importance of fostering high-quality urban design in a growing metropolitan city.
- Plan Change 43 Heritage Provisions seeks to strengthen the regulatory controls on protecting historic heritage in the city. Policies and objectives were redrafted to reflect section 6(f) of the RMA. Changes to rules include amendments to provisions on demolition, relocation, additions to and alterations of listed heritage buildings and their surrounds. The decision on this plan change was notified in October 2007. It is subject to appeal to the Environment Court.
- Plan Change 45 Urban Development Area and Structure Plan is part of the implementation of the Northern Growth Management Framework. It includes rezoning of an area of land from rural to ‘urban development’, new objectives, policies and rules for new urban development, and a structure plan for the area. The decision on this plan change was notified in March 2008. It is subject to appeal to the Environment Court.
- Plan Change 46 Subdivision Design Guide Review is an update of the existing subdivision design guide. It includes new content on environmental sustainability, designing for diversity (mixed uses and a range of lot sizes), and enhancing safety through natural surveillance. The updated design guide will be used in conjunction with structure plans in new urban development areas, and also for large-scale infill subdivisions. The decision on this plan change was notified in March 2008. It is subject to appeal to the Environment Court.
- Plan Change 48 Central Area Reviewis a complete review of all provisions in the central area. It retains an emphasis on enhancing the quality of the public environment in the central area. It also includes strengthening and enhancing policies and other provisions related to high-quality urban design, and revising the central area urban design guide. The decision on this plan change was notified in October 2007. It is subject to appeal to the Environment Court.
- Plan Change 52 Suburban Centre Rule Amendments includes new rules in suburban centres to manage the effects of large scale building developments and large format retailing. The decision on this plan change was notified in October 2007. Plan Change 52 has been withdrawn and replaced with Plan Change 73 on 29 September 2009.
- Plan Change 56 Managing Infill Housing Development was made operative in July 2009. It responds to concerns about the quality of infill housing. It amends several rules relating to bulk and scale and a requirement for each unit to have its own open space.
The Wellington District Plan includes a high number of urban design provisions and this is increased when plan changes are taken into account. The urban design sub-criteria that are extensively dealt with include:
- amenity and character: many provisions deal with amenity and character, controls on infill housing, and comprehensive design guides that aim to enhance and maintain amenity and character (these include a residential design guide, subdivision design guide and character area design guides)
- commerce: mixed uses are provided for as long as amenity controls are met, restrictions on large format retail developments
- heritage: a high number of listed buildings, objects, areas, trees and areas of significance to Māori, and policies and objectives that aim to avoid the loss of heritage values.