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Capital's planning rules proposed for big shakeup

3 December 2008

Capital's planning rules proposed for big shakeup

Wellingtonians are to be asked to contribute to a proposed comprehensive shakeup of the District Plan - the Capital's town-planning rulebook.

A draft District Plan change - covering the city's Residential Area and Suburban Centre zones - has been prepared.and given the go-ahead by City Councillors. The draft Plan change covers most of the Capital's urban area so most residents and many business owners are likely to be affected in some way by the proposals. At the least they might be interested in how the proposed rules would change the city if adopted by the Council.

Higher-density housing in parts of Johnsonville and Kilbirnie, strengthened rules to protect heritage houses and shops, rules to protect the 'look' of parts of our seaside settlements around the harbour and South Coast, rules to improve the design of buildings, and tougher rules to protect suburban shopping areas and even the city's industrial precincts are among the highlights of the review.

Other proposed new rules relate to everything from parking provision to building heights.

Councillor Andy Foster, the City Council's Urban Development and Transport Portfolio Leader, says the draft changes will be open for comment for a four-month period starting on 8 December. About 76,000 brochures will be mailed to Wellingtonians to let them know about the review.

"This is a big deal. The proposals not only fit with the Council's long-term strategy to encourage more intensive housing in parts of the city to help cope with the expected population growth in the city in coming decades - but they also aim to protect other parts of the city from high-density development.

"They also aim to protect Wellington's 'sense of place' - things like our distinctive inner suburbs with their close ranks of lovely old wooden villas, our dramatic coastal slopes with the houses nestled down the bottom - even the small neighbourhood groups of shops dotted around parts of the city."

Cr Foster says the proposed changes reflects up to three years' work by the Council to better manage infill housing and intensification and incorporates a lot of the feedback it has already received. It also introduces some new approaches to managing centres and industrial land set out in the Council's new Centres Policy.

"The draft Plan change is comprehensive - it aims to deal with a range of planning issues that have arisen in the past decade or so since the District Plan was introduced. Wellington has actually changed a lot in the past 10 years - it's a different city with different dynamics."

The proposals follow closely on the heels of the Council's adoption, last week, of the Johnsonville Town Centre Plan and the Adelaide Road (city-end) Framework. The plans set out a long-term vision for the future development of both areas over coming decades.

Residential areas

Growth areas - 'Areas of Change' With the aims of providing greater housing choice and providing for growth, the Council has spent the past 18 months researching, refining and consulting on possible areas for residential intensification - 'Areas of Change'.

Earlier in the year the Council sought feedback on proposals for 12 Areas of Change in parts of the city considered to be best suited to intensification. Cr Foster says a series of public meetings aired community concerns and so the Council decided to slow down the process and only endorse the proposals for Areas of Change in the central city, Adelaide Road and the Kilbirnie and Johnsonville town centres. Only Johnsonville and Kilbirnie include land with a residential zoning.

To encourage and facilitate intensification, the Council is proposing to introduce new provisions to promote high-quality medium-density residential development around selected parts of Johnsonville and Kilbirnie town centres, including: * Building heights to promote three-storey medium density housing * 50% site coverage and building set-back planes that alter depending on the orientation of the various site boundaries * Minimum lot sizes and front section widths for new housing to encourage better design

All new developments will be assessed against an improved Residential Design Guide. This will allow the Council to consider not only the impact of the development on the local streetscape and neighbouring properties, but also on the occupants (including privacy, access to daylight etc).

Pre-1930 demolition rules These rules provide a way for the Council to manage the unique character of parts of the inner city suburbs. Three new areas where the pre-1930 demolition rules are proposed: * A group of houses accessed from a right-of-way off Patanga Crescent (43-47), Thorndon. * Easdale and Kinross Streets, including 82 to 102 Bolton Street. This area is a highly-intact concentration of buildings built between 1920 and 1930 that has unique character and form. * Buildings fronting The Terrace at its mid-northern sections, and areas to the east that adjoin and have similar profile and character.

Heritage The Council has also recently completed a heritage audit of Thorndon. The results of the audit indicate Thorndon as a whole has significant heritage values, but as yet the Council has not decided how these heritage values can be best managed, and is seeking feedback from the community on two options: * Option 1 - A heritage area created for most of Thorndon * Option 2 - A mix of heritage areas and the modified pre-1930 demolition rules.

The 'Coastal Edge' The Council is proposing new controls to better manage the unique coastal residential character in some parts of our coastal suburbs. The coastal edge areas identified include parts of Owhiro Bay, Island Bay, Houghton Bay, Lyall Bay, Moa Point, Breaker Bay, Worser Bay, Karaka Bay and Evans Bay.

Changes we are considering * A new appendix in the Residential Design Guide to acknowledge the character of the Residential Coastal Edge and provide additional guidance for multi-unit and infill development within this area. * Building height to be measured in metres above street level to avoid buildings 'stepping' up the escarpment. * New controls on solid fences and other structures on the middle and upper slopes of escarpments. * New controls for accessory buildings on road reserve to avoid unsightly excavations, retaining structures and cable car equipment.

Suburban centres Wellington has a well-established network of suburban centres across the city, each with different roles and functions. If they are well-performing places they can provide significant environmental, social, economic and cultural benefits.

However monitoring and research undertaken by the Council over the past 18 months has revealed a number of issues affecting suburban centres that should be better managed. The changes reflect the Centres Policy adopted by the Council in August 2008.

Planning for growth Much of the future growth of the city, both for living and working, will be focused in and around our key suburban centres.

The District Plan currently allows a wide range of activities to occur in any of our suburban centres. While this approach caters for growth, there is a need to ensure activities support the role and function of each particular suburban centre.

Changes we are considering * Splitting Suburban Centres into Centres, Live/Work Areas and Work Areas to better manage the diversity of these areas * Activities to be more closely managed and directed according to the role and function of each particular suburban centre * Providing additional building height in centres that are also earmarked for intensification (Johnsonville town centre, Adelaide Road and Kilbirnie town centre)

Strengthening our Centres - a new Centres hierarchy Centres are the focal point of our communities, yet many lack variety and choice, with little residential living, entertainment or recreational activity. A small number of existing centres (such as Kingston, Newlands and Linden) are struggling economically. Some, like Newlands, lack 'anchor' uses, such as a supermarket and as a result are struggling to retain retail tenants.

Changes we are considering · Listing each centre according to its current and future role as follows: · the central city 4 Sub-regional centres (Johnsonville, Kilbirnie) 5 Town centres (Tawa, Karori, Newtown, Miramar) 6 District centres (such as Island Bay, Khandallah and Newlands) 7 Neighbourhood centres (such as Seatoun, Berhampore and Ngaio). · New policies and controls to ensure that the type and scale of development (particularly retail) fits the role and function of each level in the centres hierarchy: 1 Strengthening the multi-functional nature of centres by: · improving the mix of uses, including residential above ground floor 4 promoting centres as the first choice location for supermarkets and general retail merchandise * Restricting activities in live/work and work areas that have the potential to undermine or detract from the viability of any centre.

Safeguarding land for business and industrial uses The District Plan has very few controls governing the types of activites that can take place in suburban centres. While this approach has enabled centres to adapt to changing market conditions, the introduction of residential activities in some of these centres has made it difficult for small to medium-sized industrial activities and businesses to find land and premises within the city boundaries. In addition, industrial activities are affected by 'reverse sensitivity'. This arises when newcomers complain about the effects of existing activities in an area or when incompatible activities locate alongside each other.

Changes we are considering * Referring to traditional industrial suburban centres as Work Areas * Discouraging residential and community based activities in Work Areas * Relaxing environmental standards for noise in Work Areas to further encourage industrial uses (except where they adjoin a residential zone).

Managing retail The success of centres depends on the location and scale of retail activities. If poorly managed, they have the potential to adversely affect the viability of existing centres. They can also generate increased transport trips and higher use of private vehicles - with consequent environmental impacts.

Changes we are considering * Encouraging high trip-generating activities (such as supermarkets and department stores) to locate in areas that have good public transport and pedestrian access, and have good transport network capacity. * Encouraging retail developments over 2000m2 to locate in sub-regional centres (Johnsonville and Kilbirnie) and town centres. * Outside sub-regional centres, requiring integrated retail developments over 10,000m2 (such as a large mall) to be assessed for their impact on existing centres, the transport network and infrastructure capacity * Requiring extremely large retail developments over 20,000m2 to be assessed for their impact on the sustainability on the Golden Mile.

Urban design quality Poor urban design quality is evident in a number of our suburban centres. This has resulted from a lack of design controls, low-quality buildings, poor signage, unsuitable location of some recent developments, and insufficient focus on the street as a key public space.

Changes we are considering * A single Suburban Centre Design Guide with appendices for heritage areas * Design assessment for new buildings in Centres and Live/Work Areas that are over 50m2 in area. * Design assessment for large buildings in Work Areas where they face a main public road, residential or open space area.

'Active edges' and ground-level frontages Encouraging 'active edges' at ground floor level is a key component of successful centres because they are where public and private spaces meet.

Changes we are considering * Mapping primary and secondary street fronts for all Centres and Live/Work Areas * New provisions to maintain and improve the appearance of primary and secondary fronts including, * No residential activities on the ground floor of buildings * Restricting the creation of open space or parking areas at street level * Improved design guidance and rules for ground level development to avoid expansive blank frontages.

Heritage areas At present, the District Plan contains one suburban centre heritage area (Island Bay). Monitoring and research has identified several other area with significant heritage values that are not recognised in the District Plan.

Changes we are considering The following heritage areas be established to better recognise and protect their special character and historic value:

Aro Valley shops Berhampore shops (Rintoul Street) Hataitai shops Shorland Park shops (Island Bay) Island Bay shops (The Parade) Newtown Central Newtown North Thorndon

Changes to zone boundaries There are numerous examples throughout the city of commercial services, industrial workshops and retail activities on land zoned for residential purposes. Some of these activities, particularly those on the edge of centres, are proposed to be rezoned in order to better reflect the existing land uses and to encourage the retention of commercial or mixed use into the future.

Changes we are considering * The following existing commercial areas be rezoned from Residential Area to Suburban Centre: * Broadway, Strathmore * Corner of Constable and Owen streets, Newtown * Crofton Road, Ngaio * Darlington Road, Miramar * Mersey Street, Island Bay * Newlands Road * Corner of Onepu Road and Wha Street in Lyall Bay * Roseneath shops * Shorland Park shops, Island Bay * Standen Street shops, Karori * Tringham Street, Karori * Corner Rintoul and Luxford streets, Berhampore. * The following existing areas to be rezoned from Suburban Centres to Residential Areas * Palm Grove apartments, Berhampore * Greta Point apartments * 37, 39 Waitoa Road, Hataitai * 30 Moxham Avenue, Hataitai * 2-20 South Karori Road and 1-5B Allington Road, Karori * 35 Ganges Rd, Khandallah * 8-16 Tahi Street and 1-32 Macalister Street, Miramar (Residential units) * 6 Brussels Street and 3 Byron Street, Miramar (Residential units) * 118-154 Burma Road (Malvina Major Retirement Village) * Rear of 300-302 and 306 Tinakori Road.

A summary guide of the draft changes will be posted on the Council website, along with the detailed objectives, policies and rules - www.Wellington.govt.nz

ENDS

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