Auckland Council wanted to preserve three notable trees at 245 Matakana Road, but commissioners rejected the idea.
A plan change application allowing for more than 1000 new homes to be built on land either side of the new Matakana link road has been approved by commissioners, three months after a hearing in November.
The zoning change means more than 100 hectares of land north of Warkworth Showgrounds and west of Clayden Road will switch from its designation as future urban land with some light industry to mainly residential, with neighbourhood shops, open space and rural zones. Entry to the development would be via three access points on the link road, which would likely be controlled by traffic lights.
The applicants were five landowners who own the bulk of the land – Warkworth Land Co, White Light Family Trust, Kaurilands Trust, Rob Mills and Patrick and Laura Richards.
The hearing panel of Les Simmons, Bridget Gilbert and Michael Parsonson pointed out in their decision that the land had already been identified for urbanisation by Auckland Council’s Future Urban Land Supply Strategy, which sought it to be development-ready by next year.
“The primary issues with respect to the plan change is how rezoning and development is to proceed, rather than whether or not urban zones and development are to take place,” hearing chair Les Simmons said in his decision report.
They identified a number of contentious issues, including alignment with the Warkworth Structure Plan, lot size in the northern section, stream protection, stormwater, walkways, roads, the location of a new park, the status of three noteworthy trees at 245 Matakana Road, and the likelihood of reverse sensitivity – new residents complaining about established activities – at Warkworth Showgrounds, Skywork Helicopters and industrial land off Goatley Road.
However, in most instances the panel concluded that provisions in the plan change were either sufficient to deal with the issues, they were consistent with existing plans or they would best be resolved at the detailed design and planning stage, when resource consent applications were made.
A Council proposal to list two pin oaks and a liquid amber tree at 245 Matakana Road – the property immediately south of the link road entrance – that stood out due to their age, size and visibility as “notable trees” in the Unitary Plan was unsuccessful. Council planner Petra Burns said incorporating the three trees into a future development was “very unlikely” to make it economically unviable.
“Stand alone trees can be fairly easily designed into any subdivision layout and mature vegetation often adds appeal to new residential subdivisions, giving them a sense of established character and amenity,” she said.
However, the commissioners said that despite two arborists finding the 60 to 80-year-old trees scored more than enough points on a scale that determined if a tree was worthy of being designated as notable, they were siding with the applicants’ arborist, Craig Webb, who concluded they were not special enough to merit protection and retention.
“We find the evidence of Mr Webb more compelling,” the report said. “Despite scoring sufficient points to enable these trees to be considered, a broader conclusion can be reached that these trees do not have significant values to support their scheduling as notable trees.”
The full hearing decision document can be read online at www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/UnitaryPlanDocuments/pc-40-decision.pdf