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Protecting Glenside's Ridgelines and Hilltops

Barry Blackett supplied background information (below) to assist people making submissions about Wellington City Council's proposal to lift the Ridgelines and Hilltops (Visual Amenity) overlay on 395 Middleton Road, Glenside. The hills are proposed to be rezoned for permissive earthworks and housing.

Not all Wellingtonians realise the large effort consultants Boffa Miskell and Council made in the 1990s and early 2000s to protect Wellington’s ridgelines from inappropriate development. The result was District Plan Change 33, Ridgelines and Hilltops (Visual Amenity) overlay protection presented to Council in 2005 and finally adopted by Council in 2009 after considering several appeals mostly from developers.

The purpose of DPC33 is to protect Wellington’s 50 square km of ridgelines of visually prominent ridgelines from unsightly and inappropriate development, and minimise the need for road access and high altitude storm protection. The overlay line is not strictly an altitude contour but is designed to give about 50 vertical metres of visual protection to the ridgeline except at points where the ridgeline drops down to a lower level.

Some structures that need to be at a high altitude can be built in the overlay zone such as water tanks and transmission towers but they must meet visual design and safety standards.

In 2017, we learnt indirectly that Stebbings Farmlands, our local developer, plan to push a new high altitude road, Farnworth Terrace, into the overlay zone from the Reedy Block at the south end of Marshall Ridge. Late last year, as part of the Upper Stebbings and Glenside West structure plan proposal, Council uncovered a proposal for a development of around 150 houses at the north end of Farnworth Terrace. Almost the entire development is to be above the overlay line in breach of DPC33.

The Association has raised this numerous times with Councillors and Council officers since 2017 without success. Interestingly, this part of the overlay was not appealed in 2005 and we have heard of no appeal since. So DPC33 is still in place in Glenside West but the powers that be plan to ignore it, instead citing the Government’s National Policy Statement on Urban Development (NPS) which they say overrides the DPC.

However, the NPS is designed to encourage housing intensification in the central city, and suburban areas, in other words, areas well served by public transport, shopping centres, schools and other amenities. It makes no mention of undeveloped upland or rural areas and in fact we believe the NPS would actively discourage housing development in such areas since this would be another example of allowing urban sprawl which they want to avoid, this time upwards instead of outwards.

Local residents have been busy objecting to the proposed development on environmental grounds as well. Most high altitude developments are on steep ground, require large volumes of earthworks and carry environmental risks, so we can think of DPC33 as offering this type of protection as well.

We don’t know of any proposal to breach DPC33 anywhere else in Wellington.

 Previous submissions

The Association submitted in 2021 and in 2022:

GPA Submission on Draft District Plan, December 2021 (PDF 1.3 Mb)

GPA Submission on West Glenside, March 2022 (PDF 0.8 Mb)

GPA Submission on Draft District Plan, September 2022 (PDF 1.3 Mb)

GPA Submission Table on Draft District Plan, September 2022 (docx 76Kb)

GPA Supplementary Submission - District Plan, November 2022 (PDF 1.7 Mb)

GPA Table - Supplementary Submission - District Plan, December 2022 (PDF 186 Kb)

The 2021 submission is quite long, however if you refer to Heading 1.3 and sub paragraphs relating to Glenside West you will find useful information.

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