National Planning Standards require us to use new descriptions of rural areas in the new District Plan. These will now be known as:
► General rural zone: this will cover the existing Rural general and Rural scenic areas.
► Rural production zone: this will cover areas that rely on the productive nature of the land and intensive indoor primary production.
► Rural lifestyle zone will cover the existing Rural residential zone and provide for low density living next to urban centres whilst still enabling primary production to occur.
► Settlement zone will cover the existing Township zones.
► Rural scenic overlay will replace the existing Rural scenic zone.
Note: Please see separate discussion papers on earthworks and mining activities. These activities will no longer be addressed under the Rural Zone provisions.
► Pressures for residential subdivision in rural areas can result in the fragmentation of large rural land holdings, the loss of productive rural land and reverse sensitivity issues such as dust, noise and odour from existing farming operations. Increased demand for infrastructure such as roads, water and sewerage as a result of increased development can effect rural character and amenity.
► Increased development and diversification in the rural areas can result in the loss of landscape and Takata Whenua values, rural character and biodiversity functions and values.
► Visitor accommodation in the Rural zones is restricted to homestay or farmstay accommodation of no more than 5 people. Demand for visitor accommodation in rural areas is increasing.
► High class soils are identified but not currently protected from earthworks or development.
► Intensive farming practices are changing landscape and biodiversity values in the district. The definition of ‘intensive farming’ in the current District Plan needs refinement to reflect this.
► Land preparation for forestry activities are not regulated under the National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry. This allows Councils to better regulate these activities.
► The minimum lot size of 1 hectare in the existing Rural residential zone is not always practical to maintain for lifestyle purposes.
► Climate change – increased drought and fire risk
DRAFT RESPONSES TO KEY ISSUES
► The National Planning Standards provide for a General rural zone and a Rural production zone. The Rural production zone provides for more intense rural production activities than the General rural zone.
► Review minimum lot sizes in the Rural production, Rural scenic, Rural lifestyle and Settlement zones to better provide for the intentions of each zone.
► New provisions to protect high class soil areas.
► Stronger provisions for intensive rural activities (eg. increased setbacks) to enable their effects to be better assessed and managed, particularly within and near to sensitive areas.
► Strengthen land preparation provisions to ensure that biodiversity and landscape/scenic values are maintained as a result of afforestation.
► Increase the maximum numbers of guests allowed for visitor accommodation in the Rural zones but ensure potential effects are addressed including reverse sensitivity, parking, signage, parking, noise etc.
High class soils have a critical role in supporting food production and the provision of ecosystem services such as reducing nutrient loss, filtering water, breaking down pollutants, regulating greenhouse gas emissions and are a fundamental part of the water cycle.