Plan change above Oteha Valley approved

Structure plan changes for 2 areas above Oteha Valley Rd at Albany were approved to be made operative by Auckland Council’s regional development & operations committee yesterday, enabling more intensive development on sites flanking the Northern Motorway.

North Shore plan change 32, providing for the rezoning, doesn’t directly affect another area off Oteha Valley Rd where there’s a dispute over a proposed new road link, but did bring about the road link proposal after council staff realised existing access for the 2 rezoned areas would be inadequate.

Plan change 32 passed through the committee yesterday without comment, as a number of these final decisions did at the end of what, for most, was several years of plan creation, consultation & debate.

Structure plan areas A (environmental protection) & B (large lot residential) border Albany Heights & Lonely Track Rds at the top of the slope north of the Albany basin. Auckland Council’s principal planner for area planning & policy in the north, Ewen Patience, said in his report to the committee the key provisions of the plan change had been incorporated into the unitary plan in readiness for its notification.

The plan change originated from a North Shore City Council rural character & greenbelt study which identified that these lower-density zones were under pressure for more intensive development after having low-density rules in place for more than 10 years.

The Shore council notified the plan change in 2008 and released its decision in May 2010, but it faced 4 appeals. 2 were site-specific & resolved. On the third, relating to traffic, Mr Patience said the Environment Court determined last year that the council shouldn’t have continued pursuing aspects of the plan change without the “preferred transport solution” being realisable within the life of the plan change – “that is, the designation & formation of the road known as the Medallion Drive extension to address the capacity issues of the Fairview Avenue traffic catchment. It is noted that the council is now processing the notice of requirement lodged by Auckland Transport for the necessary road upgrading.”

While that might ordinarily sound like a fait accompli, submissions & evidence to the hearing on the notice of requirement last week indicated several options for the Medallion Drive link. One is that it will be prevented because not enough investigation has been done of alternatives. On the other side of the coin, submitters wanted the link designation to be short, ensuring it’s completed in the next 2-3 years instead of the 10 years or so Auckland Transport is looking at. That hearing was adjourned for a decision.

For areas outside this Fairview Avenue traffic catchment, the plan change will enable smaller rural-residential lot sizes – down from 1ha to 4000m² in area A, and down from 4000m² to 1500m² in area B. On fringes of these areas, smaller more conventionally sized lots will be allowed. Within the Fairview Avenue traffic catchment, lot sizes won’t be altered by the plan change.

Attribution: Council committee meeting & report, designation hearing.

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