Plimmerton Farm FAQs

The Plimmerton Farm Proposed Plan change - your questions answered.

A plan change is a change to a district plan, a process provided for under the Resource Management Act 1991. A plan change can be initiated by Council or by members of the public (a private plan change). 

The Plimmerton Farm Proposed Plan Change is a Council initiated plan change to rezone the existing 384ha Plimmerton Farm site from Rural under the Porirua District Plan to a new Special Purpose Zone, the “Plimmerton Farm Zone”. 

A precinct plan will be used to guide development and land use. The plan change will include a set of objectives, policies and rules that will manage development and activities. 

A precinct plan is a planning tool that sets out a vision to inform the future development of an area. 

It establishes a planning and management framework to guide development and land-use change and aims to achieve environmental, social and economic objectives.

Precinct planning typically involves investigations into appropriate land use options, physical environment constraints, infrastructure requirements, community values and expectations.

Population projections undertaken to inform the Porirua Growth Strategy 2048 show that we will not have enough housing for our growing city in  three years’ time. 

We have an obligation under the National Policy Statement for Urban Development Capacity to ensure we are able to provide sufficient feasible land to meet housing demand. 

The Growth Strategy identified that future growth trends support the need for more diverse housing choices to cater for a varied and changing society. 

The Plimmerton Farm Proposed Plan Change seeks to rezone land from Rural to a Special Purpose “Plimmerton Farm” Zone. 

If approved this will enable the land to be developed in accordance with the final Precinct Plan. 

The draft Precinct Plan shows that the site could be developed to provide additional housing capacity of around 2000 dwellings.

While final plans for the site will be shaped through consultation with the community, initial designs propose a variety of housing choices, a retirement village and a network of open space and recreation areas, walkways and cycleways. 

The Porirua Growth Strategy 2048 was adopted by Council in March 2019 and is a guiding framework for our city that’s intended to shape and influence ‘why’ and ‘where’ the city will physically develop over the next 30 years and beyond. 

It identifies the big issues we’re facing now and in the future and takes a principles-based approach to dealing with those issues. A copy of the Porirua Growth Strategy 2048 can be found here: 

https://poriruacity.govt.nz/documents/2431/Porirua_Growth_Strategy_2048.pdf

The Streamlined Plan Change process (SPP) is an alternative plan-making process introduced into the Resource Management Act (RMA) in 2017. 

The SPP enables a local authority to request a plan making process to suit the planning issues involved. Before a SPP can be used, key criteria must be met and an application approved by the Minister for the Environment. 

If approved the Minister makes a direction on the timeframes and steps required to be followed for the plan change. 

While the SPP would allow a plan change to be progressed faster than the standard process it is not a ‘rubber-stamping’ exercise. It requires robust consideration of the proposal and a detailed assessment of environmental effects along with measures to avoid, remedy and mitigate effects.  

Community and stakeholder engagement is still provided for, through submissions and a hearing before commissioners, in a similar way to the standard RMA plan process.  The key differences are that: 

  1. The commissioners make a recommendation to the Minister; and,
  2. The Minister makes the decision (which could be to decline the application); and 
  3. There are no appeal rights for any parties including Council and the landowner. 

More information on the SPP can be found on the Ministry for the Environment website here:

http://www.mfe.govt.nz/sites/default/files/media/RMA/Information-on-streamlined-planning-process.pdf 

The SPP will enable the rezoning of Plimmerton Farm to provide additional housing capacity much faster than under the conventional RMA approval process. 

We believe that the rezoning of Plimmerton Farm meets the key criteria under the RMA - including giving effect to national direction and responding to a significant community need. This requires confirmation by the Minister for the Environment before the streamlined planning process is undertaken.

Plimmerton Farm is identified in the Growth Strategy as part of the Northern Growth Area as an area of “New Residential Development – Medium Term”. 

Prior to this it was a noted as a ‘potential growth area’ in the 2009 Porirua Development Framework, then identified in the Porirua City Council ‘Northern Growth Area’ (NGA) Structure Plan in 2014.

Council will be engaging on a draft District Plan in September this year before a full proposed District Plan is notified in March 2020.  

The Plimmerton Farm Proposed Plan Change will be developed to align with the draft District Plan. Our teams are working closely together to ensure the two documents align. 

The Plimmerton Farm Proposed Plan Change will reflect the new layers of protection proposed to be introduced as part of the District Plan Review, including Significant Natural Areas, Special Amenity Landscapes and Natural Hazard Areas as well as providing for Medium Density Housing. Eventually it will form part of the new District Plan. 

We are working together with the developer, Plimmerton Developments Limited, on a draft Plan Change and Precinct Plan. 

We have received feedback from key stakeholders and the community on the draft precinct plan. This has helped us shape the proposed District Plan change.

The proposed District Plan Change will be notified for public submission following a direction from the Minister for the Environment.

The site’s location and elevation of approximately 200m mean it is visible from key public viewpoints in Plimmerton and it currently forms the eastern rural backdrop to the town. The topography provides for good views from the site across to the coast and to the west afternoon sun. 

A number of measures are being considered to ensure landscape values are respected:

  • Plenty of allowance for growth of trees between buildings.
  • Buildings located and orientated to maximize passive solar heating gains and minimize exposure to prevailing winds.
  • Structures built at the top of a hillside should be low in profile and stepped back from the steep hillside area.
  • Buildings on higher elevations of the site should have darker, sympathetic colours.
  • Retain existing trees and vegetation as feasible.
  • Houses below ridge-lines, profiled to follow existing landform.
  • Roading design appropriate to the terrain and respecting the elevation. 
  • Natural drainage patterns to be respected to the extent feasible.
  • The amount of impervious surfaces should be minimized per lot.
  • Retaining walls could be utilized to reduce the total amount of grading provided. 
  • Cluster development and infrastructure to minimize the need for grading on elevated portions of the site. 
  • On higher ground surrounding open space will be managed in an integrated manner through a variety of mechanisms such as reserves, covenants or collective management. 
  • Flexibility and allowances for irregular size and shape of lots in order to maximize the amount of steep hillsides that will be preserved.
  • Development to respect significant natural areas and significant wetlands.

The site is very large and although much of it is likely to be retired as open space, there is a significant opportunity to accommodate a variety of land uses to build a varied and integrated community. 

A diverse range of housing choice could be delivered through the allocation of precincts within the site, marked for certain housing types and densities.  

This will include a variety of housing types ranging from terraced houses, duplexes and townhouses located on smaller section sizes close to the community facilities and public transport links, through to standard residential development, retirement living and larger areas lots for lifestyle living.  

Consistent with the Principles of the Growth Strategy, terrace housing and townhouse style development will be encouraged in areas of the site that are close to existing public transport and proposed transport nodes and public open space. 

Providing for a range of housing densities, including higher densities in certain locations, is recognised in the Growth Strategy as being important to achieving a compact and liveable city (Principle 3 in the Growth Strategy).  

Location, proximity to community facilities and transport options, as well as topography of the site will all influence the density of development. 

Parts of the site are located close to the Plimmerton Railway Station, meaning that medium density housing is more suitable in these areas. 

Current options being assessed:

  • Density distribution relative to proximity to commercial and recreational amenities and public transport. 
  • Density distribution relative to topography, other natural site attributes, and future open space 
  • Development of an open space strategy that includes ownership and maintenance of areas unsuitable for development 
  • Provide public access through open spaces as a means to provide a connected and accessible community.

Taupō Swamp is identified by Greater Wellington Regional Council as a wetland with outstanding indigenous biodiversity values. Unless designed and implemented appropriately, land development is a potential threat to the swamp through changes to the hydrology and increased sediment load. 

Taupō Swamp is identified by Greater Wellington Regional Council as an ‘Outstanding Natural Feature’. Unless designed and implemented appropriately, land development is a potential threat to the swamp through changes to the hydrology and increased sediment load. 

The following measures are considered necessary to ensure development of the site can occur in a sustainable manner:

  • Reducing stormwater runoff volume and peak flow to predevelopment levels (i.e. hydraulic neutrality)
  • Managing stormwater quality to avoid adverse environmental effects
  • Promoting the health of regional ecosystems and their associated environmental services through the management of stormwater at the catchment and site scale
  • Managing stormwater quality via integrating stormwater detention measures into existing natural ecological features
  • Delivering best practice urban design, water sensitive design, and broader community outcomes as part of stormwater management delivery
  • An open space strategy is also proposed that respects existing stream corridors and overland flow paths, recognises and enhances significant natural areas, integrates built form with the land form and provides a land ownership model which provides for the sustainable long-term management of open spaces.

Stormwater management is a key issue for the development of Plimmerton Farm. 

A range of mitigation measures will be considered in suitable locations taking into account site constraints.  

A team of stormwater engineers and ecologists are working on the best solutions for the site. 

Where practicable, retention and treatment of stormwater will be undertaken at or close to the source. Possible stormwater measures have been prepared and form part of the information we are seeking feedback on. 

These include: 

  • Use of private rainwater tanks to retain and detain roof runoff at source. (Capture and re-use may also provide resilience for water supply.)
  • Communal tanks to retain and detain runoff as part of higher density developments.
  • Private rain gardens at downpipe locations.
  • Private and public pervious paving.
  • Kerbside public bio-retention (tree pits and rain gardens) and filter strips for road areas where slopes allow.
  • Filters for commercial parking areas and high use roads where site conditions prevent use of other measures.
  • Constructed Wetlands

Under the Plimmerton Farm Proposed Plan change a precinct plan will be used to guide development and land use. The plan change will include objectives, policies and rules to manage development and activities. Provisions will be applied to each of the identified precincts to ensure the desired outcomes are achieved. 

If the Proposed Plimmerton Farm Change is approved, then the site will be rezoned to the ‘Plimmerton Farm Zone’ under the Operative Porirua City District Plan. The Proposed Plan Change establishes the planning framework (rules) for residential development of the site and some associated commercial activities.

Before development can occur resource consents will be required from both Porirua City Council and the Greater Wellington Regional Council. 

Rules are currently proposed that would require resource consents to be obtained for a number of activities, including (but is not limited to):

  • Subdivision including roading, infrastructure and vesting of open space
  • Earthworks
  • Multi-unit residential development
  • Residential development that doesn’t comply with bulk and location controls (i.e. site coverage, maximum height, car parking)

If future resource consents are granted, Council can impose conditions on a resource consent to ensure:

  • The proposed activity is undertaken in accordance with the approved proposal; and
  • Environmental effects are mitigated and monitored. 

The Operative Regional Plans and Proposed Natural Resources Plan applies to activities that affect air, water and land irrespective of the zoning of the site under district plans.

In order to develop the site in accordance with the proposed precinct plan resource consents / permits are likely to be required for:

  • Discharging stormwater or contaminants
  • River / stream crossings
  • Discharges associated with earthworks
  • Undertaking works in the bed of a stream, river or lake
  • Mitigating effects

The topography of the site is varied and is characterised by rolling hills and gullies. Earthworks will be required for infrastructure, roading, cutting and filling to provide house platforms. While the site’s natural character will be altered by development, measures will be adopted to reduce the effects including:

  •  Restricting batter gradients and requiring planting of batter slopes
  •  Integrating bulk earthworks design with subdivision layout to ensure the proposed finished contours can be assessed as they related to proposed subdivision boundaries. If the majority of earthworks (including the creating of building platforms) take place in the bulk earthworks phases, this will limit necessity to undertake secondary earthworks on the site at the building consent stage. 

A number of measures will be adopted to ensure landscape values are respected on the site. This includes:

  • Retaining existing trees and vegetation where possible
  • Houses required to be located below ridgelines and designed to follow the existing landform
  • Creating a planting buffer along the boundary of the site with the State Highway and limited private vehicle access from this road.
  • Requiring on-site landscaping of residential sections.
  • Designing roads that allow for a street landscaping and pedestrian movement.
  • Factoring natural drainage patterns into design
  • Clustering housing in locations that are not prominent when viewed from off site and to minimise the need for earthworks and roading on elevated parts of the site.
  • On higher ground, managing open space in an integrated manner through reserves, covenants, or collective management.
  • Providing for a wide range of lot sizes, housing types and irregular size and shaped lots to enable design to respond to the landscape and reduce the amount of earthworks on steep hillsides. 

Water Sensitive Design (‘WSD’) applies a set of principles to land development to protect and enhance natural ecosystems. A WSD approach takes into account multiple objectives including environment, community, urban design and landscape amenity.

WSD principles that are proposed to be included in the draft Plimmerton Farm Precinct Plan include:

  • Retaining and enhancing freshwater environments
  • Preserving and restoring riparian vegetation along banks, natural floodplains and wetland margins
  • Linking areas of riparian vegetation to create riparian corridors
  • Mimicking natural systems and processes for stormwater management
  • Planning the road network to work with the stream network. 

The draft precinct plan proposes to schedule Significant Natural Areas that have been identified by Council, a new ecological wetland and areas of ‘indicative restoration and vegetation planting’.

A rule framework is proposed to manage activities within these areas to ensure the ecological function and biodiversity values of the site are maintained and enhanced.

The creation of ecological corridors will enhance the residential amenity and recreational opportunities on the site. 

The Taupō Swamp is one of Greater Wellington Regional Council’s Key Native Ecosystems. Stormwater management has therefore been a significant element in the development of Plimmerton Farm. A team of stormwater engineers, ecologists, urban designers, planners and landscape architects have worked to develop solutions to ensure the Taupo Swamp is protected.

Proposed solutions include:

  • Identifying, preserving and enhancing existing natural ecosystems through sympathetic stormwater design
  • Maintaining stormwater peak flow at pre-development levels (i.e. hydraulic neutrality)
  • Managing stormwater flows by integrating stormwater detention measures into existing natural ecological features.
  • Managing stormwater quality to avoid adverse environmental effects (e.g. the use of rain gardens and swales to treat road runoff as offline stormwater assets)
  • Where practicable, retention and treatment of stormwater at or close to the source
  • Delivering best practice urban design, water sensitive design, and broader community outcomes as part of stormwater management delivery.