Special Character Zones May 1, 2013

Improving the Unitary Plan for Local Centres and Town Centres Special Character Zones and Community Master Plans Abridged Version 1.0
Benjamin Ross
view.of.auckland@gmail.com http://voakl.net
Full version of presentation can be found at: http://voakl.net/2013/05/03/back-from-orakei-presentation/

Why do we need Special Character Zones?
The Auckland Council Unitary Plan (UP) takes a standardised “broad brush” approach with only a small number centre classifications and residential and commercial zonings. This approach does not suit all centres and suburbs and is not really necessary to achieve the objectives of the UP. In particular, we need a mechanism to allow for more local input to protect local character. St Heliers and Mt Eden are examples of where the SCZ might be used but there are others. What is a Special Character Zone? Special Character Zones would be independent zones in the Unitary Plan. The Special Character Zone would not be tied to the requirements of any centre classification nor tied to any residential and commercial zone types currently in the draft Unitary Plan. Policies for land use in the SCZ would be governed by a Community Master Plan developed by the Local Board and endorsed by Council. A Special Character Zone give recognition to a specific area that has character or significance that makes it stand apart from the rest of the city. Such significance or character could be from:    Character arising from history and heritage Physical Geography or Location (e.g. close proximity to the coast or a volcano or potential to hinder view shafts to a isthmus volcano (Mt Eden) Human Geography (having significant cultural character that makes the area unique from the rest of the city

To have a Special Character Zone applied would require the Local Board and community in question to justify to Council the need for a SCZ in terms of the three points above and lack of fit with the standard Unitary Plan approach. Once an area has been designated as a Special Character Zone it triggers the requirement for the Local Board concerned to draw up a Community Master Plan with (say) 6 months to control the land allocation/development/utilisation for all land and buildings inside the SCZ.

Special Character Zone – Fringe Zone
In my submission to the Auckland Plan and especially around areas that had CMCP’s, I would create a surrounding “Fringe Zone” that acts as a transition between the SCZ and wider areas of Auckland. You would otherwise get this boundary effect between the two distinct planning methodologies that would stick out like a sore thumb visually. These fringe or transition zones would Ben Ross | Improving the Unitary Plan for Local Centres and Town Centres Special Character Zones and Community Master Plans Abridged Version 1.0 1

Special Character Zones May 1, 2013
also have their own set of rules to govern the development of their own separate plan that would “bridge” the CMCP area and the wider Auckland zones. For St Heliers and acronym meanings see my full presentation Also like the Special Character Zone for St Heliers which can be translated to other areas in Auckland, so can the SCZ – Fringe Zone.

Centralised Master Community Plans (CMCP)
The current version of a CMCP is: A Community Master Plan is where the subject land use is performed under a strict prescription. That prescription would provide the covenants on land allocation, land utilisation, urban design and “rules” around what types of activities or future activities that could or could not be carried out. Centralised Master (Community) Plans would utilised in areas that have significant value or consequences (both positive and negative) to either the surrounding area or the entire city thus land allocation/development/utilisation inside these CMCP’s could not be left strictly to more market forces.. While the CMCP idea still needs to be refined to reflect changes in the planning and governance environment, it basically works like this (in regards to a SCZ in place):
  Under CMCP’s the decisions and/or oversight would be with the Local Board rather than the centralised Council Council provides a statement of intent (The Auckland Plan), an action plan for Auckland (Auckland Long Term Plan) and the basic planning rules through the Unitary Plan - over the next period of time (which is through to 2041) Local Board writes the SCZ - CMCP Council provides a mediation service when there is a dispute with an CMCP Council assists Local Boards with resources required when an CMCP is being carried out CMCP follows both the Philosophies of Land Allocation/Development/Utilisation (below), and the “policies” set out in the Special Character Zone Collaboration between the Local Board, Community and Developers (allowing greater flexibility and response to community concerns and needs/desires – but still in recognition of the Special Character Zone)

    

Where to next?
I recommend that the Orakei Local Board work with other Local Boards and their communities work to refine the terms for Special Character Zones and the CMCP concept and how they could operate. There would need to be some informal consultation with Auckland Council and its planners. The Special Character Zone and Centralised Master Community Plans are not either Unitary Plan Overlays or Area Plans. Those two provisions do not cover the three points a Special Character Zone would cover. Auckland Council has begun working on individual plans for Local Centres and the SCZ approach could fit in with the wider application Council intends for individual plans. Once refined; the concept would go to the Council Governing Body for approval.

Ben Ross | Improving the Unitary Plan for Local Centres and Town Centres Special Character Zones and Community Master Plans Abridged Version 1.0

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