Rules for city redesign

Rules and regulations for the development of the Palmerston North CBD have been discussed this week at council.

Hearings into a review of the Palmerston North City Council's District Plan have been running in front of two commissioners and two councillors since Wednesday.

The hearing is expected to continue on Monday with the decisions of the panel to be ratified by the council at a later meeting.

Among the issues up for discussion are parking, heritage, zoning changes and the design of buildings in the area.

The plan change aims to promote a more pedestrian-friendly, compact, convenient and vibrant central shopping area, preventing the drift of retailers to the outer fringe. It is expected to encourage greater density by making the inner zone smaller than it is now.

Planning consultant Laura Swan spoke yesterday in support of Harvey Norman's submission. She said the retailer opposed new restrictions on the number of carparks created at new developments.

While she recognised the move was aimed at increasing the use of public transport she said Palmerston North served as a centre for a large rural area and those shoppers could not be expected to use buses in the city.

Submitter Sue Nelson spoke of her concern about the encroachment of businesses into residential areas. The Marece Court resident said changing the zoning of her street to Outer Business Zone could detrimentally affect the group of town houses in which she lives.

Mrs Nelson, who has lived in Marece Court for 20 years, said residents did not want commercial developments overshadowing properties. She was also worried about the effect on property prices.

The earlier parts of the hearing were given over to council staff and consultants. On Wednesday afternoon senior policy planner Jonathan Ferguson-Pye ran through the council's response to the more than 70 submissions it had received.

Among his comments was a discussion on a proposal by UCOL to set up a new precinct in the district plan around the Palmerston North campus.

The idea was put forward by UCOL to reflect how the institute had different needs to commercial premises especially in terms of parking and traffic flow.

Mr Ferguson-Pye said while the proposal had merits the boundaries of the campus were not well-enough defined to allow for the easy creation of a precinct.

He also felt the proposed changes to the District Plan contained in the review would give UCOL the flexibility it needed.

Architect Graeme McIndoe talked about the importance of urban design in allowing new development in the business district.

Manawatu Standard