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Smaller minimum lots are likely

Changes to minimum lot sizes could be part of a region-wide shake-up and a joint review of the district plan. PHOTO/FILE

Sue Teodoro

Changes to minimum lot sizes, making large subdivisions comply with design standards and looking at variations between lot sizes across all three districts, could be part of a region-wide shake-up and a joint review of the district plan.

The review has already started.

A report tabled at the Wairarapa Combined District Plan joint committee meeting in Carterton said that all subdivisions under the district plan needed some form of permission from the relevant council. Even simple ones needed assessment of things such as infrastructure, water supply and sewage and stormwater disposal.

The meeting discussed the possibility of standardising minimum lot sizes across the region to allow for faster, planned growth. At present, approaches to development differed across the region.

In Masterton, the minimum lot size was, technically, about 350m square, although smaller lots could be allowed if a development plan were filed showing how urban character could be maintained.

“The average is not maintained,” a Masterton District Council spokesperson said.

“Smaller sizes can be equated with intensification,” committee chairman David McMahon told the meeting.

“Do we want smaller sizes across the board in all zones, or do we want them in targeted zones?”.

South Wairarapa councillor Alistair Plimmer said consultation on his council’s spacial plan would soon tell what the views of the community were on the issue. Smaller sections had been proposed in parts of Martinborough and Featherston.

“You have to deal with character and growth at the end of the day,” he said.

McMahon said it was important to identify which areas could be targeted for intensification.

Councillors agreed that considering feedback on the spacial plan from areas such as Greytown and Martinborough would be important.

McMahon asked the meeting for their views on whether urban design standards were desirable for larger subdivisions.

Such standards could be the inclusion of visual or other things which would help offset the size of the subdivision.

Things like having a certain ‘look’, heritage-style building designs, trees, open green spaces would be included.

An example would be the inclusion, or exclusion, of cul-de-sacs.

“There is a feeling, certainly in Martinborough and Greytown, that urban design standards to keep the character of the town would be a good thing,” Plimmer said.

Other key examples of urban design principles would be orientation to the street so there was active street interface for occupants, fence heights and special rules for back units.

It would be important to consider at what size the extra overlay of rules kicked in.

“Urban design guides are good, but they need to be controlled as to what they deliver over and above the permitted activity rules,” McMahon said.

A new set of provisions for ‘urban form’ would also form part of the overall district plan review.

This would address whether open space and recreation zones were appropriate, as well as the overall ‘look’ and ‘management’ of growth at a high level.

There was no provision for urban form in the plan.

The committee agreed to proceed with consultation with stakeholders including council staff, property developers, surveyors, real estate firms and others before reconvening later in the year.

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