Auckland Council issued a release today welcoming an Environment Court decision that the Crater Hill (Nga Kapua Kohuora) volcanic cone & the elite soils of Pukaki Peninsula – between Auckland Airport & Papatoetoe – are to remain protected from residential development & future urbanisation.
The court declined an appeal by the Self Family Trust & adjacent landowners against the Auckland unitary plan, which zones Crater Hill & Pukaki Peninsula as rural land outside the rural urban boundary.
The South-western Motorway (State highway 20) cuts through part of the hill at Mangere.
The trust had proposed including the land inside the rural urban boundary to allow building up to 575 houses on certain parts of Crater Hill and appealed against the council’s unitary plan decision.
Landowners saw parts of Pukaki Peninsula as a future urban zone allowing urbanisation over areas of very productive land.
A coalition of 5 community groups & over 800 signatories petitioned the council in 2016 to save the hill & peninsula from development, which would have allowed the houses to be built on the region’s last undeveloped volcano.
The petition was led by the Geoscience Society, Civic Trust Auckland, SOUL ((Save Our Unique Landscapes) campaign, Friends of Maungawhau & Redoubt Ridge Environmental Action Group.
They argued that the unitary plan described the volcanic cones & fields as “defining natural & physical features that provide a unique setting and contribute significantly to Aucklanders’ quality of life”.
The petition added: “Since 1950, 65% of the 26 volcanoes in the southern half of the Auckland volcanic field have been demolished, built over or severely damaged. Crater Hill is the last one left in private ownership and is currently in remarkably good shape in spite of the South-western Motorway & the owners’ quarrying & back-filling activity inside one part of the crater. The recommended unitary plan has an objective (D10.2.4) that states: ‘Where practicable, the restoration & enhancement of outstanding natural features is promoted.’”
Auckland Council planning committee chair Chris Darby said today the appeal was a test of the unitary plan provisions: “At the time the unitary plan was introduced, we were acutely aware of the need to protect the ‘green lungs’ of Auckland and ensure that the natural & cultural landscape of Auckland would be safeguarded.
In the Environment Court decision, Judge Jon Jackson and environment commissioners Eileen von Dadelszen & James Baines said that, while the decision would have implications for housing elsewhere in the city, housing demand wasn’t a simple issue: “It is not a case of ‘push the balloon of supply in here and it will bulge out elsewhere.’”
Taking into account the existing markets available for housing, the court was satisfied its decision would have minimal impact on housing supply & prices.
“Standing back and looking at all relevant considerations, properly weighted, we consider that Auckland Council drew the rural urban boundary in the correct place so as to exclude Pukaki Peninsula & Crater Hill. Its decision should be confirmed as creating an appropriate strong defensible boundary in this area.”
Attribution: Council release, Civic Trust.