Getting your input on the District Plan
Published on 29 April 2021
This month we completed an ambitious public consultation on four overlapping plans and strategies – Far North 2100, our Representation Review, Long Term Plan 2021-31 and the Draft District Plan. We met face-to-face with hundreds of residents and ratepayers and many of you have now made submissions.
During the consultation, we were frequently asked about the District Plan. This is our guiding document about land use and growth. The District Plan looks ahead 30 years, but we update it every 10 years. We have been developing the next District Plan since 2016 and released a draft in 2018 for your feedback. Ensuring we get the District Plan right can be complicated. We develop proposals and then seek public feedback before refining proposals further. We are now in the latter stages of drafting the District Plan and will publicly notify the Proposed District Plan later this year. This is when you can make a formal submission.
One issue that created some discussion is a proposal to expand heritage areas following a review by heritage firm, Plan Heritage Ltd. These areas protect properties with significant heritage value. In Mangonui, the Draft Plan proposes to expand the area to acknowledge or protect pre-European settlements. For example, pā sites at Rangikapiti and Rangitoto Point. We have included maps defining proposed heritage areas in the most recent Draft Plan. The key term here is ‘proposed’. As a draft document, your feedback will be considered and all proposals, including of heritage areas, will be refined. What we are not doing is changing the Operative District Plan – the plan currently in force. Our latest round of consultation for the Draft District Plan closed on 6 April, but there will be another opportunity to make a formal submission later this year.
Around 8000 Far North landowners will soon receive a letter from the Council highlighting how to protect unique landscapes, species, and habitats. This follows a project conducted by Northland councils to map and identify Significant Natural Areas. This is land with high ecological value due to native plants and habitats within it. Typically, this is native bush or wetland recognised due to the presence of rare or endangered native species. The Government requires us to identify these sensitive environments when developing a new District Plan.
Many coastal property owners will also receive a letter from Northland Regional Council (NRC) about updated maps showing areas at risk of coastal erosion and flooding. NRC is compiling these maps, but we will use them to update the District Plan to better manage where and how development occurs. We will also use the maps to help with resource and building consents to manage risk on specific projects. Answers to key questions on Significant Natural Areas and new coastal erosion and flooding maps will be included in the letters being sent to landowners. Remember you still have an opportunity to have a say on the District Plan by making a formal submission when it is notified later this year.