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Major changes to Mangawhai Central plan agreed, planning disaster averted says local ratepayer group



28 Mar, 2022


thumbnail 6 MF-MC copy-588After 18 months contesting Mangawhai Central Limited’s over-ambitious Plan Change 78 for the area adjacent to the Tara Stream (Mangawhai Central) and Kaipara District Council’s endorsement of that Plan, ongoing Environment Court action by local group Mangawhai Matters Inc. (MM) has succeeded in getting a far better deal for the community.

Among other things, this will see the minimum residential lot size increased from 350sqm to 500sqm. Equally if not more important, MM has had provisions added to the Plan Change that will ensure subdivision will better reflect the coastal small-town character of Mangawhai. MM has negotiated changes that mean future housing must pay for the infrastructure required to serve the development, including wastewater; and strong stormwater controls to protect and enhance streams, wetlands and ecology within the site and surrounding environment.


A poor plan
Mangawhai Matters chair, Doug Lloyd, says he’s delighted and relieved with the result which will soon be signed off by the Environment Court.

“We could not believe it when Commissioners and Kaipara District Council signed off Mangawhai Central’s Private Plan Change 78 almost two years ago. It was such a poor plan. It would’ve been bad for Mangawhai, destroyed its coastal character, damaged the estuary, and risked becoming a financial burden on ratepayers long into the future.”

Local residents established a new group, Mangawhai Matters Society Incorporated, to challenge the Mangawhai Central plan change that would potentially enable up to 2000 new homes without many of the planning controls that apply to the rest of Mangawhai. The group of residents raised funds from donations and assembled a small team – including expert resource management planner Burnette O’Connor, who has a long association with Mangawhai and Kaipara in a personal and professional capacity, and resource management barrister Michael Savage – to take on the developer and council. The Ministry for the Environment recognised the significance of the action by contributing approximately $17,000 to assist with the appeal.


Significant outcomes for community
Burnette O’Connor stated that the outcomes were significant for the community by providing a clear and robust framework for assessing future resource and subdivision consent applications. Valid community concerns around water and wastewater infrastructure, as well as impacts of the proposed development on the character of Mangawhai were acknowledged through the appeal process. The developer and the Council eventually agreed that the Estuary Estates provisions would benefit from the development.

This is endorsed by Doug Lloyd who said: “This result isn’t just good for Mangawhai. We believe the outcome will be a much better development for the developer as well as for the people who buy into it. And finally, Kaipara Council has been forced to step up, take community input into its decisions seriously, and change the way it does things.”

Burnette says Mangawhai Matters has proven to be a professional and robust voice for the community.

“This is particularly important with the imminent notification of the District Plan review. It is essential the community has a clear and consistent voice on key planning and development matters that have the potential to impact or change the area in ways that might not be positive or beneficial to the community,” she said.

“This does not mean no change, it just means the community needs to be involved in ensuring it is the best possible change, or it is change that achieves overall quality outcomes that will benefit existing and future residents of the area.”


A much better plan
Doug Lloyd says: “We were expecting significant change to Mangawhai following approval of the original Estuary Estates plan in 2008, but like many in the community we were surprised and disappointed by the scale and form of the revised version included in Plan Change 78.

“It looked like the aim was simply to transfer an urban blueprint from the city to our coastal township: Not a good fit!” he said.

A large number of people appealed PC78 and appeared before the Planning Commissioners considering the application. The commissioners were unmoved by what they heard, however, and the Council adopted the plan virtually as proposed.

Appealing a council decision to the Environment Court is challenging, time consuming, and expensive, and not easily done by private citizens. Mangawhai Matters decided it had to be done if Mangawhai was not simply to be treated like the suburb of a city, with maximising lots for sale pushed at the cost of environment, character, and, as it turned out, the capacity to actually service them.

The Mangawhai Matters Environment Court appeal was joined by the Mangawhai Fairy Tern Society and local surveyor and ecological advocate Peter Rothwell. Their participation enabled additional changes including a pest-proof fence protecting part of the estuary wetland.

Local activist Clive Boonham appealed privately focusing on wastewater infrastructure.


Financial contributions
Changes to the financial contribution provisions of the plan have been agreed. They mean that the timing of subdivision and development have to be coordinated and the developer has to meet its component of the costs of the infrastructure required to enable it.


The Operative District Plan contains existing provisions for wastewater which apply to PC78 and throughout the district. They mean resource consents for reticulated development can be declined if there is insufficient capacity in KDC’s wastewater infrastructure system. A range of changes to PC78 have also been agreed to strengthen the wastewater infrastructure provisions. Comprehensive rules, discretions, and assessment criteria require the provision of a wastewater network, along with assessment of the capacity of the existing and planned network and the wastewater treatment plant prior to any Resource Consent being granted.


Water supply
The operative District Plan contains existing provisions for water supply which apply to the PC78 site and throughout the district. The parties agreed to amendments (including to the Chapter 16 zone description, objectives, policies, and rules) to address matters raised by Northland Regional Council.

In addition, changes to PC78 have been agreed to strengthen the water supply infrastructure provisions by specifying minimum volumes (50,000 litres) required for onsite storage. Where there is not water tanks, a private water supply is to be provided. This means reticulating higher density sites or activities where it is not possible to provide a tank water supply onsite. Reticulated supply would have to meet a range of conditions, including demonstrating it will meet the legislative requirements for drinking water which includes storage, treatment, and ongoing management. Also, legislation recently coming into force requires the provision of a suitable stand-by supply, which will prove a challenging and expensive hurdle for reticulation.


Changes have been agreed to strengthen the stormwater infrastructure provisions and further protect ecological values of the estuary.


Coastal character
A range of changes were achieved to the policy framework, which provides the guidance for assessing proposals that do not meet the rules, and the provision of rules that ensure site development provides for such things as the location of garages and water tanks. The Design and Environmental Guidelines now require residential lot design at the time of subdivision to ensure sites can accommodate a complying dwelling, water storage, onsite parking and manoeuvring, and private outdoor living spaces.

These provisions will ensure that future subdivisions will reflect Mangawhai’s small town coastal character.

Lot size & density
The parties have agreed to change the minimum lot size and density rules for Residential from 350sqm to 500sqm. This is a huge gain because even before PC78 (the original provisions for Estuary Estates in the Operative District Plan) provided for 500 sections which could be as small as 400sqm.


Changes to transport provisions have been agreed (including relating to roading design, parking, manoeuvring, and cycling and pedestrian facilities and connectivity). The Structure Plan map was amended to depict greater levels of potential connectivity to Old Waipu Road and pedestrian and cycle connections to the north by wetland 1. Should development be able to accommodate more than 850 dwellings, the agreement requires a comprehensive transport plan to provide for any roading investments needed to cope with the additional traffic before further development can proceed.


Where to now
Doug Lloyd says that MM was pleasantly surprised by the open-minded and constructive approach that Mangawhai Central took in the course of the mediation and, like the applicant, are pleased that the community is not faced with the further uncertainty, time, and costs associated with having to argue the case before the Environment Court.

“Mangawhai Matters was pleased to have the opportunity to work closely with Mangawhai Central’s planner and counsel to achieve an outcome that will be more reflective of the capacity of Mangawhai to absorb development, and sympathetic to the character of our township,” he said

“Given the results, we were right to challenge the Planning Commissioners’ willingness to accept the somewhat bland evidence of some of the experts appearing for Mangawhai Central and KDC, and their dismissal of the knowledge, expertise and insights of local residents.

“The fact that the Council was then prepared to accept and defend a plan that would create demands on infrastructure and funding not currently budgeted for (an issue not appreciated by Commissioners) was also unfortunate.”

“The positive outcome of this process is that we are now optimistic that the dialogue established between MCL and Mangawhai Matters can now be continued to ensure ongoing community input as the project progresses,” said Mr Lloyd


“Mangawhai Matters was pleased to have the opportunity to work closely with Mangawhai Central’s planner and counsel to achieve an outcome that will be more reflective of the capacity of Mangawhai to absorb development, and sympathetic to the character of our township.”

– Doug Lloyd, Mangawhai Matters



As work on the Mangawhai Central development continues, developers have agreed to a number of plan changes regarding areas such as transport, wastewater, lot size, and water supply to ensure Mangawhai retains its coastal character in the future. PHOTO/JULIA WADE

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