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Mangawhai Central plan changes face public scrutiny



thumbnail 09 MF-MCchanges1-877Mangawhai’s future town centre, Mangawhai Central, has come under public scrutiny recently due to possible design changes raising concerns in the community.

Development company Viranda Partners [Mangawhai Central Ltd] lodged a Private Plan Change [PPC78] to Kaipara District Council in December 2019, seeking to rezone the 130 hectares along Molesworth Drive, stating the 2008 design of precursors, Estuary Estate, was out of date and could not ‘provide for a sustainable, resilient development’.

In addition, PPC78 seeks modifications to Chapter 16 [C16] of the District Plan concerning ‘Estuary Estates description, zones, objectives, policies, rules and/or other methods to provide for the development of the site’.

Lengthy discussions have ensued on social media regarding the PPC78, with readers expressing concerns regarding the impact the proposed changes might have on existing infrastructure – especially on the areas wastewater system and environment – and encouraging people to lodge submissions before the May 28 deadline.


Commercial too ambitious
A Mangawhai Central Ltd (MCL) spokesperson says PPC78 was necessary as the retail and commercial activity planning from over 10 years ago ‘was oversupplied and ‘too ambitious’ for the community to successfully support.

“The economic assessments undertaken for MCL identify that C16 envisages three times more retail and commercial development than is forecast to be needed for the next 15 to 20 years of community growth,” the spokesperson says. “If it were to be developed as envisaged, shops and offices would sit vacant for years to come, resulting in degradation and waste. If left undeveloped, but land banked for 15 to 20 years or longer, that land would sit vacant and add nothing to the amenity.”

The new proposals include creating new residential sub-zones, redefining ‘Natural Environment 8 sub-zone’, increasing the service zone, as well as downsizing MC’s township, ‘to achieve a vibrant main street’.

“The aim of the town centre, with a ‘modest’ supermarket (not included in C16) and a range of retail and commercial businesses, is to provide for local needs locally, relieving residents of having to journey to Warkworth or further afield,” the spokesperson says. “The town is planned to serve Mangawhai for the next decade or so, while not undermining the existing facilities at the adjoining Heads and Village centres.”

The 0.53 hectare increase of service sub-zoned land is largely a result of corrections to the alignment of the road network, however MCL recognises that commercial services land for employment and industry is important for increasing the self-sufficiency of Mangawhai.


Density and dwelling sizes
In their first public meeting, June 2017, MCL discussed a proposal of '500-550 of permanent and holiday housing’ set on a range of different land sizes. The PPC78 rezoning of residential areas appears to have doubled the number of proposed properties, potentially accommodating up to 1000 dwellings across a range of types and sizes, from 350 to 1000sqm. However this number also includes retirement village dwellings which were previously excluded. A possible designated school zone is still being discussed with the Ministry of Education.

The MCL spokesperson says the rezoning is due to research indicating ‘a mis-match’ between the type of housing people ‘wish to own and can afford, and the current market supply’.

“Council's work on the draft Mangawhai Spatial Plan, along with MCL's structure planning and expert advice is that a wider range of lot sizes and house types is necessary to support the diverse range of family sizes and incomes in the district. We have listened and engaged with the community on density and dwelling sizes… and there are some people within the community who do not want the maintenance and upkeep or cost requirements of a 600sqm or 1000sqm section.”


Environmental protection
Mangawhai Central’s surrounding native bush and wetland will also be protected from subdivision and development due to the PPC78, with the new ‘Natural Environment 8 Sub-Zone’ replacing the current ‘Green Network Overlay’ which created conflicts with the underlying zones and covered ‘large areas of pasture devoid of natural features’. The existing Green Network Overlay addressed both areas of existing pasture to be planted and the native forest, bush and wetlands in a similar manner.

“Sub-Zone 8 protects the important approximately 20 hectares of existing native forest, bush and wetlands within the site… and is explicit that subdivision works and development are not anticipated within these areas,” the spokesperson says. “In addition, the structure plan proposes to plant the riparian margins of the stream and wetlands which are currently degraded by historic stock grazing.”

Updates have also been made to the existing ‘Estuary Estates Structure Plan’ to reflect the new town centre and network of roads, walking and cycling as well as protection of the surrounding environment.

In the PPC78 Structure Plan, swales (shallow channels engineered to manage water runoff, filter pollutants and increase rainwater infiltration) will be used as conduits for stormwater flow.

“MCL envisage that this swale can be constructed as a new stream within the development to provide an ecological corridor through low impact stormwater design, consistent with the council's requirements for managing stormwater quality,” the spokesperson says. “With regards to the flood areas and natural area corridors, there is already a natural buffer between sub-zone 3a and the estuary, provided by the existing 20m wide esplanade reserve which council owns. However further widening of the esplanade reserve is a matter which MCL are happy to explore with the council and community.”

However no works are proposed with restoring the neighbouring Gumdiggers’ trail as the track lies outside PPC78’s zone.

“With regards to future public meetings, we are still aiming to host the Mangawhai Central Sustainability Conference as soon as it is responsible to do so.”

Idle over the lockdown period, earthworks can now continue at the future site of Mangawhai Central, where developers are looking at rezoning options. PHOTO/JULIA WADE

“The town is planned to serve Mangawhai for the next decade or so, while not undermining the existing facilities at the adjoining Heads and Village centres.”

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