Aaron’s blog

Unitary Plan overlays

In the Herald on Friday, Don Stock wrote about the Auckland Unitary Plan as recommended by the Independent Hearings Panel:

It has ignored the principles of democracy and natural justice by denying communities any say in the radical upzoning introduced outside the public consultation process. It has removed any requirement for good design in developments. It has removed any protection for old buildings. It has removed minimum sizes for apartments. It has removed requirements for off-street parking.

Shamubeel Eaqub has already called bullshit on the “undemocratic” claim. The other claims are mostly not true as well.

Auckland Council has published the geospatial data for the version of the Unitary Plan recommended by the Independent Hearings Panel. I thought I’d use this to take a quick look at the recommended plan’s provisions for protection of things like character and heritage.

As well as defining zones where various types of residential and commercial development are allowed, the recommended plan defines a number of “overlays” that restrict building and other activities in certain areas. Each of these overlays comes with its own set of restrictions. In many areas there are multiple overlapping overlays, creating multiple restrictions.

The red areas in the following map show many of the overlays defined in the recommended UP for the whole Auckland region:


Here’s a close-up of the central area:


For example, the UP defines “viewshafts” protecting views of volcanic cones and the Auckland museum. Within these (mostly central) areas, there are height restrictions on building:


Another set of overlays protects “special character” and “historic heritage” in certain (again, mostly central) areas by restricting demolition and development:


There are also a significant number of overlays protecting the natural environment, including “significant ecological areas”, “outstanding natural character”, “outstanding natural features”, “outstanding natural landscapes”, and the like, throughout the region:


And there are overlays covering airport approaches, national grid corridors, buffers around quarries, and places of significance to Mana Whenua:


There are some other overlays but I think the above are the most important. While the protections defined by each overlay are different and some are more restrictive than others, it’s simply not true that the recommended UP allows development to occur unchecked. There are restrictions that will affect both intensification and expansion of the city in many areas.

If you’re interested, the R code I used to make these maps is here.