Published 3 February 2010
Manukau City Council will make a highly critical submission to Standards NZ on its review of the standard for land development & subdivision, NZS4404.
The council’s all-councillor policy & activities committee approved the strongly worded report of senior policy advisor Yu Yi on the standard revision last night. Standards NZ wants comments on the draft in by Friday 5 February.
Standards NZ’s objective was to produce a standard that councils could adopt, but staff from various Manukau council units found it addressed few issues other than providing some minimum engineering requirements – and most of these were much lower than the council already practised.
“If no major amendments are made, technical changes should be made to allow individual territorial authorities to pursue better land development & subdivision outcomes,” Ms Yu said.
She said the council staff were surprised the draft standard document contained neither a statement of purpose nor a set of general objectives, and went on to suggest 5 objectives:
To encourage high quality urban design & residential amenityTo set appropriate environmental criteriaTo provide a comprehensive design approach for residential, rural, industrial & commercial subdivisionTo provide a user-friendly document with flexible performance-based criteria to guide development, andTo provide for the ecologically sustainable subdivision of land.
Ms Yu said the council staff compared the New Zealand draft with international examples and found it didn’t differentiate between residential, rural, industrial or commercial subdivision, or tourist accommodation development: “From the council’s experience, the traffic flow, pedestrian flow, functions & environmental impacts vary significantly in different types of land development or subdivision. There are also needs of flexibility for retro-fitting in brownfield redevelopment & urban intensification. The council believes a ‘one size suits all’ approach will not be appropriate in all circumstances.”
Again comparing with overseas practices, the council staff found the draft didn’t highlight the philosophy or principles behind the contemporary subdivision design:
Placing people at the heart of the design processAcknowledging diversity & differenceOffering choiceProviding for flexibility in use, andProviding buildings & environments that are convenient & enjoyable to use for everyone.
It also didn’t address:
the layout of subdivisionblock or lot sizeresidential neighbourhood designmajor or local street networkspedestrian & cycle facilitiespublic transportpublic open space, orstreet design.
And it didn’t provide for an integrated planning & design process such as a site development brief, including the site analysis for the design area & impact area, development or concept or masterplans, or a design appraisal.
Ms Yu said: “It is the council’s opinion that these matters & process are essential to achieve a better subdivision design outcome, especially for the larger-scale subdivision development.”
The Manukau staff also felt some very detailed technical provisions were inappropriately written in a mandatory form which would discourage innovative or efficient solutions. They said international practice suggested there should be a technical compliance manual with clear objectives, performance criteria & acceptable solutions.
The council was concerned about the status the standard would have, because a number of its provisions were inconsistent with various plans prepared under the Resource Management Act & related legislation.
The council was also concerned that no local body representatives had been involved in the review committee. Ms Yu said Manukau wanted to be heard on the next stage of developing the standard, if not involved in creating it.
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Attribution: Council committee meeting & agenda, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.