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We Need To Talk About Zoning And Urban Growth

The Timaru District is a great place to live, work and play, but for our community to thrive it takes planning and vision.

Our District Plan is a significant guiding tool and framework for decisions on future development and activities. The Plan balances our community’s need to grow with the needs of our community to live well, while still protecting our natural and cultural heritage, and biodiversity.

There has been a great deal of foundational work completed to aid the review of the District Plan. The Growth Management Strategy or Timaru District 2045 is a key foundational document for the district plan review. It informs

Council on the potential growth opportunities within the district and has created a vision for how Council can manage that growth.

While growth is important to our district’s prosperity, if not managed properly it can impede economic and development growth, have undesirable community consequences and negatively impact the environment. To prevent the community carrying an unfair burden of growth development, appropriate contributions from developers must be factored in and infrastructure must be well integrated.

A means of ensuring sustainable land use is identifying certain areas of our district into zones such as residential, industrial or rural. It ensures that activities within a zone remain appropriate to that area and don’t impinge on others’ rights or impact the community’s quality of life. For example it prevents a factory being built in a residential area.

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The District Plan review process has given Council an opportunity to revise current zones and to assess the best future potential areas for rezoning in the short and long-term.

New to this Plan is that Council has identified residential areas in Timaru and Geraldine for greater intensification of land use, called Medium Density Residential Zones (MRZ). These zones enable more housing to be built on these existing urban areas located near a commercial centre.

This change allows for an increase in two and three storey dwellings on existing residential properties. Intensification of residential land use was signalled as a priority in the Growth Strategy as the need for a greater number of smaller dwellings will increase as our population ages.

Central government has also identified intensification as a sustainable means of growth within an urban environment. Intensification uses the already existing capacity of current infrastructure such as water supply, stormwater and sewage. This has the added advantage of increasing the life and vibrancy of our town centres as a greater population lives within closer proximity of them.

In addition, responding to the communities desire for choice in housing options, Council has also identified areas for potential development which is called Future Development Areas (FDA). These are outside the current boundaries of the district’s towns. It is intended that these FDA’s give the option for existing landowners to develop them over an extended period of time.

The urban growth strategy and zone changes enable a complex balancing act of responding to the needs and wants of the community while ensuring the Council’s statutory mandate of sustainable management of the district is met. We encourage you to familiarise yourself with these changes and have your say through our submission process.

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