Landscapes - FAQ

Frequently asked questions about landscapes.

Why are landscapes important?

Landscapes define the character of a place and contribute to the community’s identity. They include areas such as ridgelines, hills and valleys, wetlands, coastal harbours and escarpments, islands and seascapes. Porirua’s landscapes include a range of differing features that are valued by the community.

The value of these areas are at risk from development. This can be through earthworks, vegetation clearance, subdivisions and poorly sited and designed buildings or other structures which can impact negatively on landscape values.

The Resource Management Act 1991 requires outstanding landscapes and features to be identified and protected from inappropriate subdivision, use and development as a matter of national importance. Therefore every council in the country with identified outstanding landscapes needs to have landscape protections in their district plan.

Greater Wellington Regional Council is responsible for setting the overall landscape policy direction for our region through the Regional Policy Statement for the Wellington Region. This document requires us to undertake a landscape assessment of the city, and identify landscapes that meet specific criteria to be either “outstanding” or “special".

These areas must then be identified in our District Plan maps, with associated policies and rules that provide appropriate protection. 

The Regional Policy Statement for the Wellington Region sets criteria for two different types of landscapes that councils need to identify in their district plans:

  1. Outstanding natural features and landscapes - considered to be exceptional and iconic, and while not necessarily pristine, they are landscapes in which natural elements and processes dominate.
  2. Special amenity landscapes - highly valued for their visual and physical attributes. While they may be less natural than outstanding natural landscapes and features, they are nonetheless distinctive, widely recognised and highly valued by the community. 

We have undertaken a landscape assessment of the entire city. This was carried out by Boffa Miskell, who have extensive experience doing similar landscape assessments, both in Wellington and nationally.

A district-wide assessment was undertaken that started by drawing on existing information, GIS data, previous assessments and fieldwork.

The Regional Policy Statement criteria was then applied and an evaluation method based on current best practice guidance and in accordance with the New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architecture standard. This includes a seven point rating scale for each of the Regional Policy Statement categories of ‘natural science’, ‘sensory’ and ‘shared and recognised’ factors. This overall evaluation was then assessed against explicit thresholds to determine what landscape classification (if any) applied.

The assessment methodology is set out in more detail within the Porirua Landscape Evaluation Report

The previous landscape work was based on assessments dating back to 2013. Since then the criteria have changed. However, the earlier work was very useful in the identification of candidate sites and was drawn on in this recent assessment. 

Some key differences include:

  • removal of some previously identified areas because they no longer meet the required thresholds, this includes several of the small ridgetop and hilltop areas
  • amendment to the boundaries of some previous sites resulting in the enlargement of some areas and reduction of others
  • consolidation of former separate areas as part of a defined landscape area. 

If you believe there is an error in the mapping or assessment of the outstanding natural landscape or special amenity landscape please visit our online map. You can make a submission to advise us of any questions or comments you have on the extent of these areas, or the values identified in the assessment.

This is your opportunity to have input and identify things that need further investigation by Council staff and our landscape specialists.

If required, site visits by a landscape architect may be arranged to verify that features on your property qualify as an outstanding natural feature or special amenity landscape.

For further information, you can contact the District Plan team on 04 237 5089 or ecologyandlandscapes@poriruacity.govt.nz

If your property has been identified as containing or being part of an outstanding natural landscape or special amenity landscape then future rules in the plan may place some constraints on what you can and cannot do with your property in the future.

You will not need to get a resource consent in order to continue the existing activities you undertake on the site.

The above rules will be consulted on in October 2018 as part of the District Plan review. We encourage you to provide feedback on how you think landscape values can best be managed in Porirua.

Over the next month, land owners are encouraged to visit our webpage and contact Council to ask questions and discuss the sites on their properties. We will be undertaking site visits in July 2018.

We will be consulting on a draft District Plan in October 2018. It is important that you provide us with some feedback to help guide what objectives, policies and rules apply to outstanding natural feature or special amenity landscapes. You will have further opportunity to make a submission in late 2019 when the District Plan is released for the formal submission process and hearings.

Greater Wellington Regional Council (2013) Regional Policy Statement for the Wellington Region

Quality Planning Website: Landscapes

Boffa Miskell (2018) Porirua Landscape Evaluation: Draft Technical Assessment

If you have further questions please contact us on 04 237 5089 or ecologyandlandscapes@poriruacity.govt.nz.