The Invercargill City Council is finalising details of its new District Plan and is consulting the public on seven proposed changes, known as ‘Variations’.
The District Plan is the set of rules that govern where certain activities and developments can be undertaken in Invercargill and Bluff.
Senior Policy Planner Gareth Clarke said that under the Resource Management Act all councils are required to review their District Plans every 10 years from when the present District Plan became operative. The present Invercargill City District Plan became operative in 2005 and the Council is currently in the process of finalising the details of the Proposed District Plan, which will replace the existing Plan.
“Council received 120 submissions and 50 “further submissions” on the Plan which raised over 2,300 submission points. All submissions and further submissions have been heard and are currently being considered with decisions pending. However, during the Hearings process, a number of issues have been raised relating to the Proposed District Plan that are not able to be addressed through decisions. The Variation process under the Resource Management Act is now being used to address these matters,” he said.
Seven Variations have been developed, covering a range of issues that may directly or indirectly affect Invercargill landowners and residents.
The Variations were publicly notified on Saturday, 31 October 2015 and residents will receive a letter with a copy of the public notice in the mail. Full details of the proposed changes (and submission forms) are available on the Council website; hard copies are available at the Council offices in Esk Street, the Bluff Service Centre, and the Invercargill Public Library.
Mr Clarke said that any person may make a submission on the Variations. The closing date for submissions is Friday, 27 November 2015.
Background – Proposed Variations
Variation 1 – Natural Hazards
The Proposed District Plan has identified areas at risk from flooding. Within those areas identified as having either Level 2 or 2A risk any new residential development, including extensions over 50m² to an existing residence, is required to meet a minimum floor level. This Variation addresses an oversight in the rules of the Proposed District Plan that potentially may have allowed residential development to take place in these areas without meeting the minimum floor levels. This change may be of interest to owners of land identified as being subject to risk Level 2 or 2A from riverine inundation.
Variation 2 – Noise
The Proposed District Plan includes limits on the amount of noise that can be generated by land use activities within each zone. This Variation amends the noise provisions as they relate to the Rural 1 and Rural 2 Zones, and the Industrial 1 and 1A Zones. The changes reflect the expectation that there is potential for reasonable levels of noise in the Rural zones, but that for the health and wellbeing of those occupying noise sensitive activities within these zones the noise expectations are different. Night time noise limits around noise sensitive activities in these rural zones, such as residential activity, will be changed to ensure both Rural Zones are dealt with consistently, with the noise limit increased to match the same level as in the current District Plan, thereby offering the same protection of amenity values as present. This change may be of interest to those living and working within the rural areas of the district.
This Variation also removes the hours of operation that were proposed within the Industrial 1 (Light) and Industrial 1A (Marine) Zones and increases the night time noise limits to allow light industrial land uses the ability to operate 24 hours a day. These activities would still need to comply with residential noise limits at the boundary of any residential property, ensuring residential activities are not adversely impacted. Therefore this change is unlikely to affect many parties.
Variation 3 – Professional and Personal Service – Terminology and Activity Status
The Proposed District Plan includes a reference to “Professional and Personal Service Activity”. It has become apparent that there is some uncertainty about what activities the definition for Professional and Personal Service Activity captures. This Variation replaces the term Professional and Personal Service Activity with the terms Commercial Service Activity and Office Activity, and specifies within which of the various Business Zones they are permitted as of right, and which zones they will require resource consent. The main changes are in the Business 3 (Specialist Commercial) Zone where Commercial Service Activities become permitted activities, and in the Business 4 (Neighbourhood Shops) Zone, where Office Activity will now require resource consent.
Variation 4 – Definition of Height
The Proposed District Plan currently allows for a number of architectural and rooftop features, such as chimneys, dormer windows and water tanks etc., to be exempt from controls on the height of structures. This means that these structures can be built to any size, regardless of the effects they may have on neighbouring properties. This Variation amends the definition of height by introducing controls over the scale of the structures and features that are exempt from the height provisions. A new definition that clarifies the term “gable end” is also proposed. The changes may affect how buildings are designed and built, particularly in residential areas.
Variation 5 – Industrial Activities
The Proposed District Plan provides a list of heavy industrial activities that cannot be established within light industrial zones that adjoin residential areas without going through a resource consent process. Industrial activities that are not included on this list can establish in these areas as of right as they are considered ‘Light Industry’. Currently relatively low impact warehousing activity is considered by the Plan as a ‘Heavy Industry’, while there are a number of industrial activities that have been inadvertently omitted from the list of heavy industrial activities but that could have a significant impact on nearby residential properties. This Variation clarifies the definitions of Heavy and Light Industry by amending the definition of “heavy industry” and the Schedule of Heavy Industries. This Variation may therefore be of interest to owners of light industrial land or any of the heavy industries that are to be added to the Schedule of Heavy Industries.
Variation 6 – Energy
The Proposed District Plan provides for the development of small and community scale renewable energy generation activities that have a generation capacity less than 4 megawatts (MW). Energy generation that has a capacity greater than 4MW and is connected to the National Grid is generally controlled through a resource consent process in order to manage any adverse environmental effects. There are currently no provisions in the Plan managing the effects of energy generation activities that have a generation capacity greater than 4MW but that are not connected to the National Grid. This Variation addresses this oversight by rearranging the rule so it includes provisions covering all energy generation activities. It also amends the definitions as they relate to Small and Community Scale Renewable Energy Generation activities so that they’re consistent with other National and Regional planning documents, and reduces the permitted scale of these activities to a more appropriate limit of 10 kilowatt (kW). These changes may be of particular interest to any individuals or communities considering developing small scale renewable energy generation activities.
Variation 7 – Industrial 3 (Heavy) and Industrial (Awarua) 4 Zone
This Variation corrects some errors in the drafting of provisions relating to the Industrial 3 (Heavy) and Industrial 4 (Awarua) Zones. These amendments will ensure decisions on previous planning processes are accurately carried through to the Proposed District Plan, and that provisions relating to concept plans are applied to the appropriate zone. As these changes ensure that the current rules relating to these zones are carried over into the new Plan, there isn’t likely to be anyone greatly affected by the changes.