In a departure from the norm, local landholders, planners and groups with an interest in the town and how growth and development occur are drafting the document rather than Auckland Council.
Warkworth planner Burnette Macnicol says the motivation to draft a new structure plan was kick-started by Auckland’s proposed Unitary Plan process.
Some landholders within Warkworth’s proposed Rural Urban Boundary (RUB), who had made submissions to the Unitary Plan, decided to pool resources and put forward an evidence-based and coordinated case to the Hearings Panel.
“The Auckland Plan identified Warkworth as a satellite town with its associated growth projections,” Burnette says. “The Unitary Plan is what gives effect to, or enables implementation of, the strategic direction setout in the Auckland Plan.
“This leaves Warkworth with a choice. We either sit back and let others decide what that growth looks like or we take the initiative and start looking at where growth should happen and what it should look like.
“If the community demonstrates a desire to get on with development now, it’s likely Council could support Warkworth ahead of the other identified satellite town of Pukekohe.”
Burnette says it would make sense to dovetail consultation on the structure plan with Council’s consultation on its Framework Plan for Warkworth, which could be held next month or in September. The Framework Plan will examine if the RUB boundary is in the right place but won’t have the detail that a structure plan covers.
One of the concerns of landholders within the RUB is that the Unitary Plan has a 30-year timeframe. In some cases, this virtually locks up the use of their land for that period.
“If you’re zoned ‘future urban’ then the rules place limitations on what land use and subdivision activities can occur beyond the extent of restrictions in other zones. Logically, because of the need to provide for infrastructure extensions and upgrades, anyone on the fringes of the RUB is unlikely to see their land becoming fully urban, until areas closer to the existing urban edges have first been developed. This could be 30 years away. Working on a structure plan will enable a better way to look at how growth can be managed.
A number of submitters to the Unitary Plan suggested that Council adopt a stepping stone approach within those areas identified as future urban. It is also possible that development of land within the RUB could be staged, possibly to allow countryside living in a form that can be further subdivided for urban development in the future. This would mean landholders could use the land without compromising its long-term use for urban development. The flip side is that land values could rise and people could find themselves paying higher rates.”
One of the affected landowners is Bill Endean who owns 28 hectares at Valerie Close, at the southern end of Warkworth’s proposed RUB. He believes a more active zoning in the Valerie Close are would be appropriate.
“Between the motorway and the RUB, we will no longer be the quiet rural area that we once were. As it currently stands, we are left in a sort of limbo – it makes it difficult for anyone to sell their property. It’s a pretty invidious position to be in.
“We’ve been told already that Council envisages 1000 houses will be built in the Valerie Close area within the next 20 to 30 years.”
Mr Endean says that one of the difficulties is that it’s been 11 years since the last Structure Plan was done for Warkworth.
“Council has no idea of the detail of what is in the RUB they’ve drawn.”Burnette says that through a series of meetings, the group has started to map some common themes such as where residential, commercial and industrial development could occur.
The group working on the structure plan includes representatives of the Warkworth Area Business Association, the NZ Institute of Architects, the Urban Design Forum, Progressive Planning and residents of the Valerie Close, Mason Heights and Goatley Road areas.