Amenity landscapes

Landscapes which contribute to amenity and the quality of the environment are implicitly given special recognition under sections 7(c) and (f) of the RMA which require decision-makers to have particular regard to “the maintenance and enhancement of amenity values” and “the maintenance and enhancement of the quality of the environment”.

These landscapes contribute to people’s appreciation of the pleasantness, aesthetic coherence and cultural or recreational attributes of an area, as well as those which contribute to the functioning of ecosystems. They may also relate to very specific values or associations – such as with sites of historic events or areas associated with particularrecreational activities – within rural areas. They may therefore include sites or locations that are important  for local communities, but which are too modified to qualify for protection under Section 6(b) of the Act.

Unlike outstanding natural features and landscapes, there is no presumption that landscapes which contribute to amenity and environmental quality will be retained in their current state. 4551 They may continually change as land uses and settlement patterns modify over time. However, change is to be carefully managed to ensure that the overall amenity and environmental quality of the area is maintained or enhanced. This may include ensuring that areas of special natural and cultural value and sensitive visual areas, such as ridgelines, headlands and routes, are protected and that ecological ‘patches’ and connective corridors, such as those along waterways, are enhanced.

Various territorial authorities throughout New Zealand have achieved this by identifying “Visual Amenity Landscapes” (or similar) and including provisions in their district plans to manage land uses in those areas.

  1. Wakatipu Environmental Society Inc v Queenstown Lakes District Council[2000] NZRMA 59, at [91]

Last updated at 4:21PM on January 8, 2018