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3.9 Otago Region

3.9 Otago Region

3.9.1 Otago Regional Policy Statement

Otago Regional Council has reviewed and verified the questionnaire and summary for the Otago Regional Policy Statement.  They requested a number of changes which have all been addressed.

3.9.1.1 Context

Otago is the second largest region in New Zealand in terms of land area; approximately 32,000 sq km or 12% of New Zealand's land area. Otago's resident population is 203,500 (2008 estimate), which is approximately 5% of the country’s total population. Sixty per cent of the region's population live in the Dunedin urban area. The population in the region grew by 6.8% between 2001 and 2006 with Dunedin’s population growing by a moderate 3.8%. In 2006, there were 87,900 dwellings in the region of which 12,000 (13.6%) were unoccupied. The towns of Queenstown, Wanaka and Cromwell, and surrounding rural areas, have experienced most growth within the region. The Queenstown Lakes District grew by 35% over the past five years, and Central Otago District grew by 15%.

Pressing issues include the short supply of surface water in some parts of the region, and the need to use water wisely. In urban areas public transport systems are receiving attention with the expansion of bus services, particularly in Dunedin. Flood management is also a challenge being addressed within both urban and rural areas. The Otago region has a projected income under its 2008/2009 Annual Plan of $46.5 million, with 25% of that income coming from rates, and 75% from reserves, dividends and other forms of revenue.

3.9.1.2 Plan Provisions

The Regional Policy Statement for Otago (RPS) became operative in 1998. The following provides a summary of the nature and extent of provisions under the operative policy statement that incorporates and promotes the urban design outcomes under the questionnaire.

Amenity
A number of issues, objectives and policies under the RPS aim to avoid the adverse effects of development on the quality of the urban environment, natural and physical resources, and promote sustainable management.

Commerce
The RPS has no specific provisions relating to commerce.  However, it promotes diversification and use of the land resource, and refers to avoiding the adverse effects of the built environment (including economic activities) on Otago’s natural and physical resources.

Choice
The RPS promotes diversification and use of the land resource, and includes issues, objectives and policies for maintaining and enhancing public access to natural and physical land features. These features include water bodies and coastal waters.

Custodianship
The RPS includes issues and policies which require the consideration of renewable resources including energy efficiency through technology and architecture and in particular the efficient use of water. There are also provisions relating to limiting noise in the coastal environment and the sustainable management of infrastructure.

There are a number of issues, objectives and policies addressing hazards, such as flooding and sea-level rise, and the importance of considering these hazards in future developments.

The manawhenua perspective overlays the whole RPS.  They identify a number of issues and objectives, with policies woven throughout the resource chapters.

Collaboration
The RPS refers to working together, rather than collaboration, particularly with respect to land and hazard management, iwi liaison and managing the built environment. Cross boundary issues are identified, agreed to and dealt with by encouraging co-ordinated planning of activities.

Character
The RPS has policies for maintaining and enhancing water quality and quantity, and avoiding adverse effects of use and development on water bodies. The RPS also includes issues and objectives to protect outstanding natural features and landscapes, to maintain and enhance significant indigenous vegetation and significant habitat of fauna, trout and salmon; and to re-establish indigenous ecosystems. 

A sense of place is achieved through provisions relating to Otago’s natural and physical features in their various forms and the manawhenua perspective.

Heritage
The RPS has objectives and policies providing for the identification and protection of heritage values.

Open Space
The RPS does not directly refer to open space. It recognises outstanding natural features and landscapes, riparian margins and the importance of public access, especially to water and the coast. It considers the adverse effects of urban development on natural and physical resources, including amenity values.

Connectivity
The RPS has issues and policies to promote and encourage the sustainable management of the transport network. The Otago Regional Council has a Regional Land Transport Strategy and is currently working on a Regional Passenger Transport Plan aimed at promoting bus transport.

The RPS does not refer to residential densities and has no specific provisions to promote non-vehicular modes of transport.

Urban Growth
The RPS includes policies promoting efficiency in development and the use of infrastructure.  Urban development is generally viewed as requiring mitigation to minimise adverse effects on the environment, including localised air pollution, impacts of urban development on the coastal environment, loss of productive land and urban encroachment

3.9.1.3 Summary

The RPS has a relatively low number of specific urban design provisions. Under the RPS, 30% of the questionnaire sub-criteria are addressed through the Plan provisions. The following graph illustrates the proportion of those sub-criteria for which the number of relevant provisions was high, medium or low, or for which there were no relevant provisions.

Extent of relevant provisions in operative RPS

Extent of relevant provisions in operative RPS
The graph shows the extent to which the sub-criteria have been incorporated in Otago Regional Council’s RPS.  Seventy percent of the relevant provisions do not address the sub-criteria.  Thirty percent of the relevant provisions address the sub-criteria.  These are addressed as follows: 12% at a low weighting, 12% at a medium weighting, and 6% at a high weighting. 


The above graph shows that most of the sub-criteria in the questionnaire were not relevant in the provisions of the RPS. The majority of those sub-criteria that were of relevance to aspects of urban design have ‘low’ or ‘medium’ representation with minimal provisions of a ‘high’ proportion of relevance.

As with other regional policy documents, the RPS for Otago takes a higher level strategic approach to policy and does not include objectives and policies on specific urban design methods. The focus of the RPS is on objectives and policies for avoiding adverse effects of developments on the environment and promoting the sustainable management of Otago’s natural and physical resources.

A number of gaps with respect to the urban design outcomes can be identified from the assessment undertaken. It does not include specific guidance on issues such as building design or large format retail, which are more appropriately dealt with at the district level. There is little in the way of provisions addressing open space or street design, however, these issues again are considered to be the focus of territorial authorities and not regional councils. The RPS addresses efficiency in using resources. It identifies that inefficient uses of water and wastage of water can occur, including from industrial and domestic water use, and promotes efficient consumptive water use through good water use practices (which include design). It promotes the sustainable use and management of energy, including improving energy efficiency through the use of energy efficient technology and architecture, and energy efficient transport modes.

The focus of the RPS is on providing an overview of the resource management issues of the Otago region and on ways of achieving the integrated management of its natural and physical resources. There are however, gaps relating to the urban environment and the incorporation of urban design principles to development proposals.

3.9.2 Dunedin City District Plan

Dunedin City Council has reviewed and verified the questionnaire and summary assessments for the Dunedin City District Plan.  They requested some minor changes which have all been addressed.

3.9.2.1 Context

Dunedin City Council is a Council with a population of approximately 118,600 residents. The population grew 3.8% between 2001 and 2006. Most growth was experienced in the Mosgiel area (5.9%) largely as a result of the availability of land and convenience of access due to the building of the motorway. The University of Otago plays a dominant role in the City and this has produced challenges for the Council in terms of managing the pressure for development, while still preserving the values, character and environment of the city. The current challenge is the high profile, proposed Awatea rugby stadium. Dunedin has a projected income under the 2008/2009 Annual Plan of $200m, with 45% of that income coming from rates and 55% of that income from dividends and other forms of revenue.

3.9.2.2 Plan Provisions

The Dunedin City District Plan became fully operative in 2006. The following provides a summary of the nature and extent of provisions under the Plan and proposed plan changes that incorporate and promote the urban design outcomes under the questionnaire.

Amenity
A number of objectives, policies and rules restrict the effects of developments which could adversely affect the amenity of an area such as controls on signage, noise, sunlight access and visual clutter. Different rules apply to different zones.  While many relate to residential activities, there are rules that also apply to enhancing character that could also be considered relevant to amenity. Sign Guidelines provide guidance to retain amenity standards when placing new signs in the city.

Commerce
The Plan provides for mixed uses in the central and suburban centre zones by permitting a wide range of activities that are considered to be compatible and that meet the activity rules for retaining amenity values. Developments in the central area are also guided by Design guidelines for the Princes street commercial precinct which have been prepared to assist owners and developers who wish to renovate or redevelop their properties. Specific provisions include controls on the facades of historic buildings and streetscape, verandas and display windows.  They also include provisions to improve the pedestrian environment in the inner city by providing shelter, retaining a human scale, and avoiding blank street level façades.

Appropriate mixed uses are provided for in the residential area as local activity zones, including home-based businesses. There are also controls on large scale retail developments and the need for suitable provision of these activities.

The proposed Harbourside Development (Plan Change 7) makes provision for mixed uses alongside the Otago Harbour.

Choice
The Plan requires that amenity open space per unit is provided for all residential developments.  There are however no policies linking provision of open space with an ability to increase densities. It is more focused on retaining amenity and avoiding over development on individual sites. Residential densities are also limited to number of bedrooms per unit and no provision is made for multi-unit residential developments. There are no specific provisions encouraging higher densities around centres, and only the campus zone facilitates high residential densities through developments of halls of residences. 

Limits on car parking provisions in the city centre and campus are provided but given that alternative forms of transport are limited, and given the large number of out of town students, parking provisions aimed at addressing these provisions are challenging.

Height limits of buildings vary considerably between the campus zone and the rest of the city. The Plan specifies site coverage standards in the residential zones which affects housing density and design.

Custodianship
There are no specific provisions on renewable energy, water saving, or low impact stormwater. The Plan does however, include design guidelines to maximise sunlight access, and provisions to avoid shading and glare. Noise is addressed under the Plan, with varying noise limits for different zones, including the ports, airports and business areas.

With regard to hazards, the Plan objectives and policies focus on avoiding the impacts of hazards, with rules relating to hazardous substances, land instability and flooding. There is a Hazards Register and accompanying plans. There is mention of climate change in policies relating to development areas affected by sea level rise.

There is no mention of the use of design to improve environmental performance of infrastructure or on people’s health.

Collaboration
The Plan has provisions for collaboration with the port and university, and limited provision for long-term structure planning.

Character
There are a number of provisions within the Plan which both aim to ‘retain’ and ‘promote’ a sense of place, particularly in the campus zone and within the city centre. The use maps identifying Landscape management areas and urban landscape conservation areas address issues not only of character but also heritage and open space.

Heritage
There are a number of district-wide provisions on responding to heritage values. These provisions include identifying and protecting important heritage values, and encouraging development of under-utilised buildings and areas. Heritage buildings and archaeological sites are listed, and townscape and heritage precincts are identified as requiring particular attention.

Open Space
The Plan includes a number of provisions to provide for open space, particularly along margins of water bodies and coast. A number of management plans exist for reserves, particularly the town belt. There are no provisions within the Plan that promote better designed streets, open space areas associated with stormwater, utilities and streets or having clear boundaries between public and private open space.

Connectivity
There are a number of provisions associated with connectivity. A hierarchy of roads is identified and there are policies relating to avoiding conflict of pedestrian and vehicular traffic. There are provisions within the Plan to reduce the level of vehicular traffic that encourage safe, attractive and secure pathways and links between landmarks and neighbourhoods or streets that are designed as positive spaces with multiple functions.

Urban Growth
There are a limited number of provisions in the Plan associated with growth management.

3.9.2.3 Summary

The Dunedin City District Plan has a reasonable number of urban design provisions. Under the District Plan, 63% of the questionnaire sub-criteria are addressed through the Plan provisions. The following graph illustrates the proportion of those sub-criteria for which the number of relevant provisions was high, medium or low, or for which there were no relevant provisions.

Extent of relevant provisions in operative RPS

Extent of relevant provisions
The graph shows the extent to which the sub-criteria have been incorporated in Dunedin City Council’s District Plan.  Sixty seven percent of the relevant provisions address the sub-criteria.  These are addressed as follows: 27% at a medium weighting, 26% at a low weighting, and 10% at a high weighting.  Thirty seven percent of the relevant provisions do not address the sub-criteria.

The above graph shows that there were a ‘high’ or ‘medium’ number of provisions under the Dunedin City District Plan addressing over a third of the sub-criteria, and nearly half of the sub-criteria there were between one and four relevant provisions.

The following urban design criteria are addressed well under the District Plan: amenity, commerce, choice, custodianship, character, heritage and connectivity. There is a strong emphasis on heritage, landscape conservation values and townscape precincts, relating to particular areas.
Gaps include:

  • urban growth management
  • no maximum parking controls
  • limited provisions relevant to the collaboration sub-criteria: collaboration between disciplines, community engagement, public/private partnerships
  • no integrated management of stormwater and open spaces, and no definition of public/private boundaries
  • no specific provisions encouraging physical activity
  • no renewable energy, water saving, or low impact or integrated stormwater design rules or guidelines.

3.9.3 Waitaki District Plan

Waitaki District Council was provided with a copy of the questionnaire and summary assessments of the Waitaki District Plan.  They did not provide any comments.

3.9.3.1 Context

The Waitaki district lies in North Otago and has a total land area of 7,214km2. The district had a usual resident population count of 20,223 in the 2006 Census. The population increased by 0.6% between 2001 and 2006. Statistics New Zealand predicts a decline in the Waitaki district population.  The Council commissioned additional research on the impact of three factors that it considered was likely to have a substantial effect on population.  These were irrigation, winery expansion, and the development of Holcim Cement Works. The research predicted that the usually resident population of Waitaki district will increase 20,223 in 2006 and peak in 2016 at 22,203 residents, and then decrease to 21,298 in 2036. The main township of the district, Oamaru is home to one of the most concentrated collection of neo-classical buildings developed using locally quarried Oamaru Stone in New Zealand. The nearby harbour is recognised as a site of national significance by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust.  Retaining this unique heritage and sense of place is a key urban design issue.  The Council has a projected income under its 2008/2009 Annual Plan of $35.8 million, 63% of that income coming from rates and 36% coming from other income sources.

3.9.3.2 Plan Provisions

The Waitaki District Plan became operative in 2004. There are two plan changes which are of relevance to this study, Plan Change 2 – Landscape and Visual Amenity and Plan Change 5 – Heritage Related Policies.  The following provides a summary of the nature and extent of provisions under the Plan and the proposed plan changes that incorporates and promotes the urban design outcomes under the questionnaire.

Amenity
The Plan includes a large number of provisions which restrict the effects of developments which could adversely affect the amenity of an area. These provisions focus on the design and siting of buildings to maintain the privacy, outlook, sunlight and general amenity of the district.

Commerce
The Plan provides for mixed uses in all zones by allowing a wide range of activities so long as they meet the activity standards for that particular zone. The Plan specifies design controls to enhance shopping, working and living experience in neighbourhood centres including provisions relating to verandas, windows, landscaping ad building setback from roads. There are no provisions within the Plan that deal with large format retail.

Choice
The Plan is relatively light on provisions that deal with choice. There are provisions within the Plan that provide for a variety of housing types, and maximum permitted building heights and site coverage which could affect housing density and design.

Custodianship
Several provisions within the Plan aim to encourage renewable energy sources. However, there are no rules within the Plan that give effect to this. The Plan includes noise mitigation measures for the Oamaru and Omarama airfield zones. There are no provisions within the Plan that aim to reduce noise impacts from town centres.

Whilst there is a policy within the Plan aimed to ensure that design and siting of development is such that an open space and attractive street scene is maintained there are no other provisions within the Plan which consider residential buildings in relation to the street.

There are a large number of provisions within the Plan which aim to reduce the potential effects of natural hazards. The Plan identifies a large number of methods to give effect to these provisions.

Whilst there is a policy which controls the location of buildings and outdoor living areas to reduce impediments to access to sunlight, there are no rules specified within the Plan which give effect to this policy.

Collaboration
There are no relevant provisions within the Plan.

Character
There are no specific provisions within the Plan which retain or promote a ‘sense of place’. However, the Oamaru Central design guide does aim to achieve this.

The identification and protection of distinctive landforms is provided for through a number of objectives and policies within the Plan. Plan Change 2 proposes to add a policy within the Plan to avoid subdivision where it would not give effect to the policies for the outstanding or significant natural feature or landscape.

Several policies within the Plan provide for the identification, protection and enhancement of indigenous vegetation.

Heritage
The Plan includes a high number of the heritage sub-criteria. Plan Change 5 adds a number of issues, objectives and policies aimed to respond to heritage values of an area.

Open Space
The Plan includes a number of provisions on open space. There are no provisions on promoting better designed streets and streetscapes, open space associated with stormwater, utilities and streets or having clear boundaries between public and private open space.

Connectivity
The Plan contains a relatively large number of provisions on connectivity. These include the development of pedestrian areas and walkways, restricting access points off major roads, and promoting a compact urban form to reduce the length of and need for vehicle trips.

Urban Growth
The Plan provides a number of provisions on providing for the management of urban growth including confining residential zoning, promoting a compact urban form and to limit the extent of townships.

3.9.3.3 Summary

The Waitaki District Plan has a relatively moderate number of urban design provisions. Under the District Plan, 49% of the questionnaire sub-criteria are addressed through the Plan provisions. The following graph illustrates and compares the proportion of those sub-criteria for which the numbers of relevant provisions were high, medium or low, or for which there were no relevant provisions, under the District Plan.

Extent of relevant provisions in operative RPS

Extent of relevant provisions in operative District Plan
The graph shows the extent to which the sub-criteria have been incorporated in Waitaki District Council’s District Plan.  Fifty one percent of the relevant provisions do not address the sub-criteria.  Forty nine percent of the relevant provisions address the sub-criteria.  These are addressed as follows: 33% at a low weighting, 10% at a high weighting, and 6% at a medium weighting. 

The above graph shows that over half of the sub-criteria under the questionnaire are not addressed under the Waitaki District Plan.

The urban design outcomes that are provided for within the Plan include amenity, heritage and connectivity.

Most assessment criteria under, choice, custodianship, character, open space and urban growth management are addressed through the Plan. Collaboration is not covered at all under the Plan. Gaps include:

  • no control of large format retail
  • no maximum parking standards
  • ensuring public spaces are accessible to everyone
  • the provision of higher density development around town centres and public transport nodes
  • no renewable energy, water saving, or low impact or integrated stormwater design rules or guidelines
  • no provisions addressing ongoing maintenance requirements for buildings and spaces
  • no provisions involving the community in decision making, or using private/public partnership
  • No provisions which promote a ‘sense of place’
  • no non-regulatory incentives to protect or maintain heritage items
  • policy and standards to promote better designed streets and streetscape and promote as open spaces with public surveillance
  • limited provisions for encouraging green networks, or designing streets to have multiple functions.

3.9.4 Queenstown Lakes District Plan

Queenstown Lakes District Council has reviewed and verified the questionnaire and summary assessments for the Queenstown Lakes District Plan.  They requested changes which have all been addressed. The Council is currently preparing an urban design strategy for the district, covering the following broad areas: growth issues; public space, built form and identity; connections – transport and land use; sustainability; quality; and community, collaboration and custodianship.

3.9.4.1 Context

The Queenstown Lakes district is the fastest growing region in New Zealand. The usual resident population count for Queenstown-Lakes District was 22,959 (2006 Census), an increase of 34.7% since 2001 which was the highest regional growth rate in New Zealand over that period. The number of occupied homes in the district grew by the same amount. In Queenstown, housing affordability for younger workers is a major concern.  The district has high visitor numbers.  The development of associated accommodation is also providing urban design challenges.  Development of infrastructure to keep pace with population growth and ensuring development is in keeping with the highly valued iconic landscapes is a major urban design issue facing the district.  The Council has taken measures to address urban growth issues. In 2008, the Council undertook a growth projection study to understand existing capacity and likely future land needs. The Council has a Growth Management Strategy, community plans and the Wanaka Structure Plan to strategically manage growth in the Queenstown Lakes district. The Council has Queenstown and Arrowtown design guidelines which provide guidance as to how new buildings should be integrated into these urban environments. They also have an urban design panel to provide urban design advice on Council capital and policy projects and private development proposals. The Council has a projected income under its 2008/2009 Annual Plan of $97million.

3.9.4.2 Plan Provisions

The Queenstown Lakes District Plan became partly operative in 2008. The following provides a summary of the nature and extent of provisions under the Plan that incorporates and promotes the urban design outcomes under the questionnaire.

Amenity
The Plan has a very high number of provisions relating to the maintenance and enhancement of amenity in urban areas including district wide provisions, town centre, and residential areas. However, whilst there are a large number of issues, objectives and policies relating to amenity there are few rules within the Plan which give effect to these provisions. The Queenstown town centre guidelines provide provisions relating to amenity.

Commerce
The Plan has a number of provisions promoting mixed-use zones in urban centres, not through specific mixed-used provisions, but by allowing a wide range of activities so long as they meet the permitted activity standards. The Plan includes one policy aimed at promoting public facilities and street furniture within the commercial/town centre zone. There is one policy enabling home occupations within residential areas, however there are no rules relating to this.

Choice
The Plan includes policies which provide for a variety of housing types and for higher density residential activity around the town centre. However, there are no rules which give effect to these. The Plan includes rules which affect housing density, specifically site coverage and site density rules. There are no specific provisions on increasing densities in association with the provision of open space, maximum parking standards, ensuring public spaces are accessible, provision of a variety of section sizes or a variety of maximum building heights.

Custodianship
A number of provisions within the Plan encourage renewable energy in subdivision and development. The Plan includes provisions to incorporate noise mitigation to reduce noise impacts from major infrastructure. Rules within the Plan specify building setback requirements and a number of provisions to mitigate the effects of hazards. These provisions aim to avoid areas with a high probability of being effected by natural hazards. A number of provisions are included in the Plan which consider the impact of design on people’s health by specifying requirements for outdoor living space.

There are no provisions on water saving devices, noise mitigation measures to reduce noise impacts from town centres, crime prevention through environmental design, the on-going care and maintenance of building spaces, places and networks or design to improve the environmental performance of infrastructure.

Collaboration
There are no relevant provisions within the Plan.

Character
The Plan includes a large number of provisions which aim to retain a 'sense of place'. These provisions control the form and location of buildings to retain the existing character of residential areas and town centres. There are no specific provisions within the Plan that promote a ‘sense of place’.

There are no provisions within the plan which protect urban waterbodies. Policies focus on the identifying and protecting distinctive landforms and indigenous vegetation.

Heritage
There are a large number of provisions within the Plan that respond to the heritage values of an area. The Plan states that Category I and II items identified in the New Zealand Historic Places Trust register form the basis for the historic places list within the Plan.

Open Space
A number of provisions are included within the Plan which provide for open space in the district and standards to promote better designed streets in the commercial area. There are no provisions within the Plan that promote open space areas associated with stormwater, utilities or streets and there are no provisions on having clear boundaries between public and private open spaces.

Connectivity
A number of provisions within the Plan promote walking and cycling in the district. However, no rules are included to give effect to the objectives and policies. There is one policy within the Plan which promotes the integration of public spaces, reserves and streets with development. A number of policies promote a compact urban form to reduce the length of and need for vehicle trips.

Urban Growth
The Plan covers urban growth management issues, objectives and policies. The district has a growth management strategy to give effect to these provisions

3.9.4.3 Summary

The Queenstown Lakes District Plan has a moderate number of urban design provisions. Under the Plan, 47% of the questionnaire sub-criteria are addressed through the Plan provisions. The following graph illustrates and compares the proportion of those sub-criteria for which the numbers of relevant provisions were high, medium or low, or for which there were no relevant provisions, under the Plan.

Extent of relevant provisions in operative RPS

Extent or relevant provisions in operative District Plan
The graph shows the extent to which the sub-criteria have been incorporated in Queenstown Lakes District Council’s District Plan.  Fifty three percent of the relevant provisions do not address the sub-criteria.  Forty seven percent of the relevant provisions address the sub-criteria.  These are addressed as follows: 25% at a low weighting, 16% at a high weighting, and 6% at a medium weighting. 

The above graph shows that over half of the sub-criteria under the questionnaire are not addressed under the Queenstown Lakes District Plan.

The urban design outcomes that are well provided for within the Plan include amenity, heritage, character and urban growth management.

Most assessment criteria under commerce, choice, custodianship, open space and connectivity are addressed through the Plan. Collaboration is not covered under the Plan. Gaps include:

  • no control of large format retail
  • no maximum parking standards
  • no variety in maximum building heights
  • no renewable energy, water saving, or low impact or integrated stormwater design rules or guidelines
  • no provisions addressing ongoing maintenance requirements for buildings and spaces
  • no provisions involving the community in decision making, or using private/public partnership
  • no provisions which promote a ‘sense of place’
  • no non-regulatory incentives to protect or maintain heritage items
  • limited provisions for encouraging green networks, or designing streets to have multiple functions.