Case Studies

Statutory planning - Auckland Unitary Plan

The Unitary Plan (operative in part) is Auckland’s planning “rulebook”, setting out where and how the city grows in the future. The Unitary Plan replaced the former regional policy statement and regional and district plans with one document which is focused on delivering the vision set out in the non-RMA Auckland Plan. It is intended to provide a simpler, more consistent set of rules that apply Auckland-wide.

The Unitary Plan provides an excellent example of a clear strategic direction feeding into clear rules, such as non-complying or prohibited activity status for inappropriate activities. The following provides provisions from part of the proposed plan which apply to the coast.

H19 Rural Zones - Rural Coastal Zone


(5).Maintain the rural and coastal character and amenity values in the coastal environment by controlling the number, location, size and visual impact of dwellings and other non-residential buildings and their curtilage and accessways.

(6) Require the location and design of buildings and other significant structures to:

(a) avoid locating on the top of ridgelines so their profile does not protrude above the natural line of the ridge;

(b) minimise building platforms and accessways and earthworks associated with these; and

(c ) avoid locating buildings and other significant structures in coastal yards and riparian margins, except for fences and structures with operational need for such a location.

H19.5.4. Rural - Rural Coastal Zone Te Arai-Pākiri Coastal Area

H19.5.4.2. Objectives

1.Low levels of built development in the Te Arai-Pākiri coastal area are maintained to retain its coastal character and the scenic and recreational values of Pākiri Beach and Te Arai Beach.

2.Development of Māori land is provided for in a way that retains the dominance of natural elements and scenic values over any built development.

H19.5.4.3. Policies

1.Avoid beachfront residential and rural lifestyle development to retain the undeveloped character of the beaches.

2.Manage the type and intensity of development along existing public roads and other access ways to the beaches to protect their low-key development character.

 (3) Manage built development so that the size, location and density of buildings do not dominate over natural elements and the area retains a rural and coastal character rather than a built one.

(4) Minimise the visual and landscape impacts of buildings in areas where there are important public views to and from Pākiri Beach, Te Arai Beach and the rural backdrop, including:

(a) views to and from the beach at the Pākiri River mouth;

(b) views to and along Pākiri Beach and the southern coastal hills from Pākiri Regional Park; and

(c) views to and from the beach at Te Arāi Point.

(5) Avoid activities and development that adversely affect the natural character, water quality and recreational use of the catchment of the Cape Rodney to Ōkakari Point/Goat Island Marine Reserve, particularly on the coastal hills fronting the reserve.

(6) Provide for the ongoing operation of the Mangawhai Forest and its multiple purposes for timber production and sand dune stabilisation, and for its landscape and open space values as a backdrop to Pākiri Beach.

(7) Enable the use of Māori land in the area for papakāinga and other associated purposes, but recognise the high natural values of the area by:

(a) concentrating built development in areas of lower visual prominence;

(b) cluster development rather than expansion along the coastal edge;

(c) maintaining existing vegetation and landform character as far as practicable; and

(d) managing the scale of development to reflect papakāinga and marae needs, rather than more intensive forms of development.

Non-statutory planning - Coromandel Peninsula Blueprint 

For some years, communities on the Coromandel Peninsula have expressed concern about the impacts of development on their coastline and natural landscapes. In response, in 2006 the Thames- Coromandel District Council and Environment Waikato decided to prepare a non-statutory planning document, which would set out the community’s vision for the area and provide a foundation for consistent planning and sound decisions going forward.

A political steering group with representatives from the Thames-Coromandel District Council, Environment Waikato, Department of Conservation and Hauraki Whaanui drove the development of the Blueprint, drawing on existing plans and the substantial amount of information already collected on the Coromandel Peninsula’s communities, environment and economy. Growth projections indicate that demand for living opportunities on the Coromandel Peninsula will result in a further 15,000 houses being built by 2041. This growth, together with the popularity of the area as a tourist destination, will continue to place a high demand on services and infrastructure.

The key focus of the Coromandel Peninsula Blueprint is on:

  • Concentrating development and focusing future services and infrastructure within three main urban hubs
  • Maintaining services and preserving the character of smaller centres and rural settlements
  • Improving the integrated management of catchments
  • Providing more control over rural and coastal subdivision
  • Protecting and enhancing biodiversity and landscape values
  • Fostering additional economic activity to provide more work opportunities within the district
  • Managing development and avoiding new development in hazard prone areas

The preparation of the strategy was informed by a range of technical papers including those on demographics, open space and the built environment. Implementation of the Blueprint is occuring at two distinct levels. The first is the district-wide level with strategies being developed to help achieve the four long term outcomes identified. The Blueprint will lead to changes in the district plan, regional policy statement, conservation management strategy and iwi management plans. The second key implementation tool at the local level will be Local Area Blueprint plans. These plans will provide further details and direction on managing growth and development at a local (catchment, settlement and harbour) scale consistent with the Blueprint outcomes.

In addition, regular monitoring will be needed to ensure that the Blueprint is adaptable if circumstances change significantly. Guidelines for monitoring and review, within a regular reporting framework, are being developed based on a set of indicators to measure the desired outcomes. The reviews will inform future policy changes and identify new actions which will help to achieve the document’s goals.

Monitoring – Whangarei District Monitoring Strategy

The Whangarei District Monitoring Strategy is intended to provide a framework for the development of an integrated environmental monitoring programme over time. As well as providing an overarching framework, the Strategy also contains monitoring procedures, and acts as an operational guide for monitoring staff. This is to ensure that they adopt a consistent approach to monitoring activities and to reporting on monitoring outcomes.

Local authorities have specific duties to monitor under the RMA and these include monitoring resource consents, the efficiency and effectiveness of planning documents and the state of the environment. The Council has identified a number of matters which require monitoring, including subdivision and development, riparian and coastal margins, amenity values, tangata whenua values, indigenous vegetation and habitat, and open space. For each issue a number of Anticipated Environmental Results (AER) have been formulated based on the objectives, policies and methods in the Whangarei District Plan. Using these AERs, a range of information needs along with potential indicators, have been identified. For example, one of the AERs for subdivision and development is: “A pattern of consolidated land use and development that allows for the efficient use and development of natural and physical resources, avoids sporadic subdivision and ribbon development, particularly along the coast, and ensures a density of development appropriate to the location”.

A useful report for identifying a range of appropriate monitoring approaches is the Whangarei Harbour Water Quality Action Plan Summary Document (November 2012)  prepared by the Northland Regional Council and Whangarei District Council.

Spatial Planning - South East Queensland Regional Plan, Australia

This plan focuses on growth and urban development within the region over a 20 year period until 2031. Its purpose is to manage regional growth and change in the most sustainable way to protect and enhance quality of life of the region which comprises regional and city councils, many of which border the coast.

The South East Queensland Regional Plan sits within the Queensland land use planning framework and reflects and informs state planning policy and priorities. It also guides local government policies and plans and non-statutory processes, such as planning for natural resource management, urban renewal and new growth areas at the district and neighbourhood levels.

The regional vision for South East Queensland as set out by the Regional Plan is a future that is sustainable, affordable, prosperous, liveable and resilient to climate change, where:

  • communities are safe, healthy, accessible and inclusive
  • there are diverse employment opportunities and quality infrastructure and services, including education and health
  • urban and rural areas are mutually supportive and collaborative in creating wealth for the community
  • development is sustainable and well designed, and the subtropical character of the region is recognised and reinforced
  • ecological and culturally significant landscapes are valued, celebrated, protected and enhanced
  • the community has access to a range of quality open space and recreational opportunities

The plan identifies an urban footprint to provide for current and future urban development. It also seeks to protect 80 per cent of Queensland from urban development through identifying Regional Landscape and Rural Production Areas where urban development is prohibited.

All councils within the region are required to develop local growth management strategies and to demonstrate how they will achieve the goals set out in the regional plan. The plan has been accompanied by a South East Queensland Infrastructure Plan which is updated annually and linked with the State Government budget.


Last updated at 5:26PM on February 2, 2018