November 2013 Newsletter

  • The Society's response to the proposed Auckland Unitary Plan
  • What is proposed for Okura greenfields
  • Monitoring of Long Bay Structure Plan
  • Friends of Okura Bush

We have been dealing with some big issues over the past weeks, namely, the inclusion of the Long Bay Structure Plan provisions in the the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan; and the consideration being given by the Auckland Council to residential development of the greenfield land at Okura as a Special Housing Area.

The Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan

By now, most of you will be aware of the importance of the Auckland Unitary Plan. This document will define the direction of Auckland's development over the next thirty years. The draft Plan released early this year omitted or overruled many of the provisions ofthe Long Bay Structure Plan. The Society put in a submission, addressing our concerns, and of course, many of you did likewise. (A copy of our submission is on our website.) As a result, the Council has revised the Plan and we are lead to believe by Council officers that most of the provisions that the Society had fought for have been reinstated. That is their intention, they say, but they admit that there may still be some oversights. We have therefore engaged a town planner to cross-check the provisions of each the Long Bay Structure Plan (LBSP) and the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan (PAUP) to ensure that all the provisions of the LBSP have indeed been covered in the PAUP. This is a complex task taking many hours, and we have not yet received his report. The result of his cross referencing will determine what we say in our submission to the PAUP.

Submissions to the PAUP close on 28 February 2014. We will be seeking legal advice about our submission to ensure we cover all necessary aspects of the PAUP. Not only will it be important to further identify any further concerns that we may have, we will have to identify the parts of which we approve. This is because subsequent to the receipt of submissions, Council officers will summarise the feedback they received through the submissions process, and there will be opportunity to once again provide yet another submission on this feedback.

At this stage, parties can only comment on issues to which they have previously alluded. This means, for example, that if some party had a counter opinion to particular aspects of the Plan to ours, we would be able to provide further comment about this.

We will be encouraging you all to once again make your own submissions and will, again provide information to assistwith this just as soon as we have it available.

Proposed residential development on Okura greenfields

As mentioned in the last newsletter, there are proposals for the Greenfield lands at Okura, adjacent to the Okura Estuary, most of which is owned by the Todd Group, to be included inthe Rural Urban Boundary (RUB) and therefore available to be considered for residential development, such as at Long Bay. Environment Court decisions of 1996 and 2003 decreed that this land should remain rural, with blocks of land zoned no less than 4 ha (10 acres) in size in order to protect the Okura Estuary, the last natural estuary on the North Shore.

The PAUP has retained the zoning of this land as Countryside Living, ie, 4 ha lots that cannot be reduced in size without a plan change. Currently it is outside of the RUB.

The Auckland Council has included Okura in its consideration of several areas of land across the Auckland region at the outside edge of the RUB for inclusion into the RUB.

In a report to Council, the Okura issue was identified as complex, and it was recommended that further investigation be deferred to after notification of the PAUP.

The 2003 Environment Court decision contains such statements as:

'We have concluded that urbanisation of the part of the subject land in the Okura catchment would necessarily have significant adverse effects on the environment of the Okura Estuary, and that the estuary, its high quality waters and ecosystem, possesses life-supporting capacity which deserves to be safeguarded… We have found that the landscape quality of the Okura Estuary and its margins is so high, and the likely visual effects of urbanisation of the part of the subject land within its visual catchment are such as to indicate that in those respects it should not be urbanized.'

'… our findings about the adverse effects which urbanisation in the Okura catchment would necessarily have on the environment, in particular on the quality of the waters of the estuary and its margins, support a definition of the metropolitan urban limits so as to exclude the landin that catchment… We find it reasonably foreseeable that future generations of Aucklanders will have need of an accessible experience of an estuary in natural condition…. Urbanisation in the Okura catchment would not sustain the potential of the Okura Estuary to meet that need.'

'The Okura Estuary possesses a capacity to support life, largely due to its natural condition… Although development controls, settling ponds and other measures would mitigate adverse effects of urbanisationof the waters of the estuary, they would not avoid them.'

'…in a regional context, the Okura Estuary is unquestionably significant for present and future inhabitants of wider Auckland… In a broad sense, that determination has an important bearing on the emphasis to be applied in recognizing that the district's planning framework for the catchment needs clearly to reflect that the area lies beyond the metropolitan limits, without being regarded as an interim or short term form of transition to future urbanisation'.

At the last general meeting, members of the Society confirmed that they wished to follow the recommendations of the Environment Court and do all it can to protect the Okura Estuary from degradation. At the meeting, the Okura Environmental Group (OEG) was re-established, of which the Society is a member and has representation. Other member groups include North Shore Forest and Bird, Friends of Okura Bush, Okura Ratepayers, Keep Okura Green and other interested parties and individuals. They have had public meetings at Okura to ascertain the
opinion of the local community and there are many opposed to development. OEG, including the Society, will be makinga submission to the PAUP and again, enlisting your support for this.

Monitoring of Long Bay Structure Plan

The Society has taken an ongoing interest in monitoring the implementation of the Long Bay Structure Plan. We are disappointed that there have been few monitoring group meetings organized by the Auckland Council, the last one about a year ago, but pleasedto say that at our prompting a further meeting is being organized. These are public meetings where the Council and developers can give monitoring feedback, and are able to respond to concerns that groups such as ours raise. We do not know the date of this meeting yet, but if you have any concerns you would like addressed, or wished tocome to the meeting, please contact me, 09 479 4015, or Bernard Stanley 09 473 8630 for further information.

Membership of the Society

Since the completion of the Environment Court case,the membership of our Society has dropped markedly. However, as you can see, we have not been idle, and there are still important issues to deal with if we wish to protect the treasures of the Long Bay and Okura landand marine environment. The release of the first version of the Unitary Plan made us feel as though all we had fought for was for nothing, so itmeant a lot of work to have the Plan revised. We are having to engage professional advice such as from a town planner and lawyer, and anticipate that we may need expert witnesses in the future such as marine biologist and landscape architect. All of this is expensive. Your support, including your financial support, is very much appreciated, especially at such critical times as when making formal submissions to the long-reaching Unitary Plan. If your membership has lapsed, you may like to renew your subscription. Donations also are always welcome.

Friends of Okura Bush

Friends of Okura Bush have now become a legal entity of their own under the name of East Coast Bays Coastal Protection Society. They wish to express their thanks to our Society for
acting as an umbrella for them as they were setting up.

They have already been very active in projects protecting and restoring the bush on Council land, and are in the process of getting DoC permits for trapping rats and possums. They are
planning a Music fest fundraising event to cover costs of a contractor, traps, training etc.

For further information ring Lezette 478-8810 or Nick 473-1985.

Season's Greetings

As this is the last newsletter for the year, members of the executive committee join me in thanking you for your support over the year, indeed, years, and wish you every good wish for Christmas and the New Year.

Chris Bettany
Convenor, Long Bay-Okura Great Park Society

Download print version: LBOGPS November 2013 newsletter [348 KB PDF]