The current effects-based District Plan does not define land uses in the Rural Production Zone which applies to most of the land outside of urban areas, including the two primary approach routes to Kerikeri township.
In the Rural Production Zone where you would expect to see farming or horticulture, by controlling effects and not activities, there are no limits on commercial and industrial activities that are not closely related to primary production. Vision Kerikeri predicted long ago that; inevitably, as a consequence of this, activities would occur that were out of character with the predominant surrounding activity. That happened when a rubbish sorting depot was located next to Turners & Growers export pack house on Waipapa Road. We note that Laser Plumbing has recently moved into the former Fudge factory along KeriKeri Road which is also in the Rural Production Zone.
That is not quite what Vision Kerikeri has in mind as an activity for our main entrance into town. How many more industrial or commercial activities, not associated with a Rural Zone, may be expected thereby destroying its character? As a result, the intended freedom of an effects-based District Plan actually results in greater uncertainty and less security.
Some time ago we searched 12 District Plans from Whakatane to Whangarei and in every one, industrial activities are not permitted activities in their rural zones.
Plan Change 15, still in progress, seeks to deal with such anomalies, not by stating what is not permitted, but through limiting the number of permitted daily vehicle movements into an activity. This seems to be an elaborate (and probably unmonitored) mechanism to avoid rules about unacceptable activities.
A District Plan lists for each zone a hierarchy of; objectives, policies and then rules. Objective 188.8.131.52 is “To protect the amenity values of the frontage to Kerikeri Road between its intersection with SH10 and the urban edge of Kerikeri”. Policy 8.6.4. commentary describes; “the entrance to the township of Kerikeri along Kerikeri Road is an important part of the towns’s identity for local residents and visitors alike” and among other things that; “landscape planting... will ensure that these amenity values are recognised and protected”. However, there are no supporting rules and no requirement for our prized entry to town to have any landscaping at all.
In a more usual District Plan; environmental effects are controlled by placing like land uses together. In our Rural Production Zone ad-hoc development of urban style subdivision has occurred in clearly rural areas and businesses can locate ‘out of zone’ and avoid paying commercial rates.
There is nothing to (currently) prevent commercial and industrial development from taking place along Kerikeri and Waipapa roads ultimately resulting in a “Mill Lane” look and feel for our town entry corridors. Furthermore, this highly permissive approach, which allows a high degree of flexibility, is not necessarily protecting the environment, particularly rural character and amenity values and has cumulative effects such as:
Land fragmentation can lead to reverse sensitivity when a housing development takes place next to a legitimately established orchard and the new neighbours complain about spraying.
Fragmentation can lead to expensive demand for Council infrastructure.
Our good soils are valuable for food production and reducing “carbon miles”. Much is already sub-divided and more could follow.
If we want to preserve that special character for Kerikeri Road then we do need those supporting rules and we should take an interest in the District Plan now undergoing a 10 year review.