Thursday, 24 November 2011

The Spatial Plan: How will Blueskin Bay look in 2050?

by Geraldine Tait

Many of you will not have heard the term spatial plan. It hasn't got
anything to do with NASA and astronauts; it is a document setting out
directions for Dunedin's growth and development for the next 30+
years. It will also be used as the basis for changes in the new
District Plan. Bored already? That's right it doesn't read much like a
thriller or juicy romance.

However, there is an interesting section outlining key issues for
Dunedin, which seems to show an enlightened attitude to climate change
and peak oil. It also mentions protecting productive farmland,
heritage buildings, landscape values and biodiversity. Our ageing
population, old cold houses, cycling, walking, public transport and
local power generation also feature, but further into the plan the
focus rapidly moves from a sort of eco-greenie theme to one of divide
and rule. Something called distributed development is proposed which
has the majority of development occurring in urban areas with some
expansion of outlying townships in order to increase the
self-sufficiency of these communities.

In the Waikouaiti Coast Community Board area three townships are
proposed for further development; these are Waikouaiti, Hawksbury and
Waitati, while it recommends Karitane, Seacliff and Warrington retain
existing levels of development consistent with character values and
good design. What does this mean for Waitati? A large chunk of Doctors
Point is outlined on a map with the wording 'allow some expansion in
suitable areas'. If you are like me you will be smelling a very large
rat about now! Waitati has probably seen the biggest development of
lifestyle blocks and rural residential sections of any area around
Dunedin. Many of these are still not built on and quite a few are
finished but on the market. So there is no shortage of that type of
property in our area, in fact there is probably a glut. How would
subdividing more land in Waitati make it more self-sufficient or
resilient? The plan says that in order to create strong communities we
need growth in population to help retain local services (shops,
transport and schools) and employment. Our local shop relies as much
or more on passing trade as it does on local support to function. If
anything threatens its future it is the plan to move the highway and
displace the shop.

Waikouaiti has twice the population of Waitati but it shares the same
little bus service that we have, so doubling Waitati's population
won't get us extra buses. The viability of our local schools has not
improved since Don's-Creekisation, in fact I would argue that the
massive increases in property values associated with the subdivision
of farms has made our village a lot less affordable for young
families. The existence of small rural schools is very much in the
hands of the Minister and Ministry of Education, who like to take out
their lazar guns every few months and zap a few more schools into
oblivion.

Would an increase in population create more local jobs? This is a very
complex question. Many of us in this area work in town, there is a
small growth in self-employment and people working from home. Local
employers such as the nursery, and Orokonui Eco-sanctuary mainly rely
on customers from outside our area; Waitati's population has little
effect on them. There are a lot more local jobs in Waikouaiti, these
arise mainly from businesses which support the farming community.
Others succeed because the distance to travel to obtain goods and
services in Dunedin is much greater for people living in Waikouaiti
than it is for Waitati locals.

There are many things we could do and are being done by a number of
local groups and individuals to make Waitati a more resilient and
self-sufficient township. The Blueskin News features some of these
every month. We do welcome new people to our community especially when
they send their kids to the school and playcentre, shop locally and
join some of our many groups which help to make this a great place to
live. BUT we don't need any more major subdivisions or loosening of
rules about lot sizes in the rural zones. If you agree with me, get a
copy of the Spatial Plan and make a submission to council before it's
too late!

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From blueskin.co.nz and 'Blueskin News' published by Blueskin Media:
voluntary/non-profit community publishers in Blueskin Bay (Seacliff,
Warrington, Evansdale, Waitati, Doctors Point, Purakaunui), Dunedin,
New Zealand. All material sent to or published by us is "copyleft" in
the public domain and may be freely shared, archived, re-edited and
republished. If you want to credit the source it's "blueskin.co.nz".

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