Access planning under the Auckland Unitary Plan
Recently the Matakana Trails Trust appealed a decision made by Auckland Council relating to a large rural subdivision. The Trust argued that by not requiring a connecting trail through the subdivision, the Council had not followed the Auckland Unitary Plan. The connecting trail sought by the Trust forms part of the Puhoi to Pakiri Greenways Trail promoted by the Rodney Local Board.
The judge found that under the Auckland Unitary Plan “…failure to provide for integrated transport connectivity can be an adverse effect as well as a failure to meet plan objectives.”
The judge also focused on the Rodney Greenways Plan which was adopted by the Rodney Local Board. This is a non-statutory document but the judge gave it weight: “…[the plan] demonstrates a strong interest by the Rodney Local Board to provide walking and cycling connectivity between Puhoi and Warkworth.”
The judge went on to note that the Greenways Plan “...provides a level of inter-connectivity that seems entirely consistent with the Unitary Plan provisions…”.
One particular area the judge focused on was this paragraph from the hearing commissioners’ report: “We would prefer to see more connectivity for walking and cycling within the development and between it and the Puhoi township…but we see no legal grounds to require it.”
The Environment Court concluded that the Auckland Unitary Plan provides legal grounds to require connectivity. The Court decided that a connecting trail for both walking and cycling should be provided across the subdivision.
This decision has implications for all subdivisions in Auckland that require a consent. Subdivisions need to provide connectivity and Greenways Plans have status as guiding documents.
Photo: River Bend by russellstreet (CC BY-SA 2.0).