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Environment Court decision protects Crater Hill and Pūkaki Peninsula

Published: 23 April 2018

Crater Hill (Ngā Kapua Kohuora) volcanic cone and the elite soils of Pūkaki Peninsula are to remain protected from residential development and future urbanisation under a significant decision of the Environment Court.

The court declined an appeal by the Self Family Trust and adjacent landowners against the Auckland Unitary Plan which zones Crater Hill and Pūkaki Peninsula as rural land outside the Rural Urban Boundary.

The Trust had proposed including the land in the Rural Urban Boundary to allow building up to 575 houses on certain parts of Crater Hill and appealed against the council’s Unitary Plan decision.

Parts of Pūkaki Peninsula were favoured by landowners as a Future Urban zone allowing urbanisation over areas of very productive land in the future.

Planning Committee Chair Councillor Chris Darby said the appeal was a test of the Unitary Plan provisions.

“At the time the Unitary Plan was introduced, we were acutely aware of the need to protect the ‘green lungs’ of Auckland and ensure that the natural and cultural landscape of Auckland would be safeguarded.

“Council is committed to maintaining this as a priority and the Environment Court’s decision shows that we’ve been successful in protecting what we consider to be a remarkable part of our unique volcanic landscape.”

The Environment Court decision by Judge Jon Jackson and Environment Commissioners Eileen von Dadelszen and James Baines said that while the decision would have implications for housing elsewhere in the city, housing demand is not a simple issue. It is not a case of ‘push the balloon of supply in here and it will bulge out elsewhere.'

Taking into account the existing markets available for housing the court was satisfied its decision would have minimal impact on housing supply and prices.

“Standing back and looking at all relevant considerations, properly weighted, we consider that Auckland Council drew the Rural Urban Boundary in the correct place so as to exclude Pūkaki Peninsula and Crater Hill.

“Its decision should be confirmed as creating an appropriate strong defensible boundary in this area.”

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Housing Heritage Manukau