Limits on building of homes queried
A Richmond architectural designer has described Nelson city's new plan changes, which place stricter design controls on new homes, as "social engineering" that will be hard to enforce.
Adrian Christiansen of North West Design said revised rules aimed at controlling front yard designs would affect "develop and build" companies, which would have to "completely redesign" homes or apply for resource consent in order to comply.
He believed this would force so many people to apply for resource consent that there would be many exceptions to the rule, so it would become "pointless".
The range of plan changes, which took the council years to pull together after wide consultation with developers, builders and surveyors, came into force on July 1.
The council explained when it embarked on the process that the reason for the changes was to incorporate better urban design by "improving the interface between private and public spaces".
Mr Christiansen agreed with the principles of the plan changes, but is now calling for the rules to be suspended until further discussion takes place.
He is also "cursing" himself for not making a submission during the lengthy consultation process, but said he did not think the draft rules would ever see the light of day.
"The truth, is we're working our butts off trying to do our job, but I'm a fool for not submitting to this," he said.
The new rules state that a garage can no longer protrude in front of a house unless it sits four metres back from the road. Buildings must be at least 1.5m back from the road.
At least 50 per cent of the yard facing an unclassified road has to be landscaped, or at least 30 per cent for properties facing classified roads.
Fences fronting unclassified roads cannot be any higher than 1.2m. Fences fronting classified roads must be no higher than 2m, and any portion above 1.2m must be 50 per cent see-through (using something like a trellis).
"The bottom line is that for these rules to be effective, rules are needed first that force the land developers to shape the sections and write covenants that suit these rules," Mr Christiansen said.
"It will cost time and money and won't achieve anything. I think the principle is great, but the practical application will struggle, and no-one will win."
He said a large number of sites at present "simply don't work for these rules".
For example, a job he was working on meant that for the house to comply, it would require access to be created through the sunniest part of the section, relegating the living areas to the cooler side.
"The way it stands, we will have to change what we're doing to the building or pay for resource consent to justify why we're not building to the rule.
"Solar gain in housing is an important architectural principle, but it seems they haven't thought through the flipside of this rule."
The council's principal adviser of resource management planning, Matt Heale, said the new front yard controls built on existing provisions and had been structured to improve safety and streetscape design.
He said the changes were the result of "significant consultation" with the housing development community. Developers were recently sent letters informing them of the decisions.
"In the case of the front yard rules, they have not changed from those originally notified."
Mr Heale said he was not expecting an influx of consent applications as a result of the new rules.
"These rules only apply to the first four metres of residential sites. Front yard controls have controlled building coverage, location and design in the Nelson Resource Management Plan for some years.
"This change adjusts those controls to better reflect current urban design outcomes and ensure Nelson is a safe and attractive place to live."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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