Integrated regional policy to be put together
A report to the Regional Growth Forum’s 9 May meeting said significant open space is being severely compromised because its value isn’t recognised in an integrated policy framework.
The report, by policy analyst Emma Oliver, set out six policy issues — from the basic theme that continued population growth will threaten quantity and quality, to a need to provide for linkages to the region’s open space network — and three management issues.
Most are issues for sensibly developing a healthier environment. Planners will now work on an open space strategy for the region.
Two significant issues in property development terms are the third and fourth of the policy issues: “The provision of open space needs to be an integral part in the planning of new urban and intensification areas,” and “Urban intensification can have adverse effects on open space values if not co-ordinated or planned effectively.”
On the first of these two points, Ms Oliver said the forum should:
develop a consistent and agreed set of criteria or guidelines to assess the diversity and quality etc of open space which should be provided within both structure and concept plans
apply relevant growth strategy principles to the structure or concept plans relating to new urban and intensification areas, and
investigate mechanisms that may be applied to direct growth away from sensitive or highly valued open space areas. On the second of these two policy issues, she said the forum should:
undertake a comprehensive study into the open space requirements of urban intensification developments, and
develop criteria or design standards for open space requirements to be applied in urban intensification areas. Ms Oliver said the best way to deal with intensification of rural land use was through rural sector plans, which would be demonstrated in the rural sector plan about to be prepared for the southern sector agreement.
She said a failure to integrate management had already led to piecemeal decisionmaking, with different interpretations leading to inconsistencies. Work will be undertaken on developing regional definitions and concepts, and an agreed set of objectives and policies for the open space network.
Two local body planners raised major issues on the intensification/sprawl battle, during discussion on progress of the northern and western sector agreements being prepared for the growth forum.
Waitakere City planner Anne Cheng said the metropolitan urban limit was looked on at the moment as a boundary, “whereas we ought to be looking at it as a transition” from the denser urban mass to countryside. “The main thing is to prevent urban sprawl, but also to look at it from urban design and amenity issues.”
Peter Vari, from Rodney District, said the countryside living zones in the council’s proposed district plan were not expected to be seen as reserves or as the locking up of land which was privately owned.