Amenity Indicators (what we measure)
Amenity values are natural or physical qualities and characteristics of an area that contribute to people’s appreciation of its pleasantness, and cultural and recreational values.
Having a safe and healthy environment for living, working and recreation is important for Matamata-Piako residents. This involves maintaining generous access to daylight, sunlight and private open space, especially in urban areas.Amenity values can differ in rural areas to those in urban areas, as people in rural areas commonly both live and work on the land, and can be involved in activities that generate noise, odour, dust and other effects.
The amenity and heritage values of Matamata, Morrinsville and Te Aroha could be adversely affected by unsuitable development. Amenity in rural areas can also be compromised by rural activities that generate noise, odour, dust and other effects.
In general, disturbance to amenity values as a result of legitimate farming activities undertaken in accordance with best practice is acceptable; however in urban areas and near large-scale rural industry, it is expected that any significant negative effects on amenity values will be avoided, remedied or minimised.
The number of resource consent applications to breach Council's development control rules in the District Plan had decreased since 2009/10, but increased again since 2015/16. This is likely due to the relative number of dwellings being constructed, which has increased over the past two years.
In 2015/16 44 of 50 resource consents to breach development controls were for yard encroachments and in and in 2016/17, it was 40 of 49 of resource consent applications. In 2017/18, 39 of 45 consents to breach development controls were for yard encroachments. The other six consent applications were for five applications to encroach upon the height-to-boundary rules and one application to encroach on recreational space requirements. The ongoing volume of applications to breach development control rules is in line with the overall increase in the number of building consent applications. Yard areas provide space for outdoor activities and landscaping, and also create a pattern of open space and built up space, which forms the character of the district.
The Council’s Plan Change 47 – Plan Your Town reviewed the sections of the District Plan relating to the planning rules and zoning for each of the district’s largest three towns and the areas around them. Rule changes included a reduction in the building setback distances from some boundaries for residential and rural-residential properties, changes to residential infill subdivision around town centres and identifying likely future urban growth areas. A hearing was held in June 2017 and a decision was notified in April 2018, allowing the plan change to become part-operative.
Increased signage and advertising can also impact upon the visual amenity and traffic safety of the environment; however, the number of resource consent applications for off-site signage has remained low since 2008/09. There have been only two applications received since 2012/13. One application was received in 2015/16 for a billboard in Thames Street, Morrinsville, predominantly used for community or local advertising. The only other application in the last six years was for a petrol station price display sign to be located on a neighbouring property.
Complaints about signage can relate to the size of text, content, location and size of a sign. In 2015/16, six complaints were received about signage, four of which related to signage for business activities. 10 complaints were received in both the 2016-17 and 2017/18 years about signage; mainly about real estate or business’s sandwich-board style signs.
Removing trees can also have an impact on amenity values. As of 2017/18, there are 97 scheduled protected tree sites in the district. Very few resource consents have been granted for the removal of protected trees since two were granted in 2008/09, as shown below:
During 2008, Council completed a plan change to amend the tree protection provisions within the District Plan. Previously, a resource consent was needed to remove, or do any major work to any tree over 10 metres in height. This approach was deemed to be too restrictive by Council, and changes to the Resource Management Act meant that only trees specifically listed in a schedule of the District Plan could be protected.
A process was undertaken to identify those trees which added to the amenity of the district and these were added to the schedule of outstanding or significant natural features and trees and other protected items. This plan change aimed to give confidence to whether or not a resource consent would be needed to remove a tree and to remove any unnecessary restrictions. The plan change allows notable trees to be removed as a permitted activity if they were dead, dying or terminally damaged.
This has had an effect on the number of consents granted and trees removed over the past five years. The number of trees removed as a result of being considered a permitted activity has not been monitored; however, at least some trees have been removed each year under this provision.
In 2010/11 there was an application for the removal of 19 scheduled trees within a woodlot adjacent to the Morrinsville Stream, to allow for construction of a wastewater treatment plant. The trees were seen as being significant because they were part of the woodlot, not as individual trees, and replanting with 38 trees was seen as an effective mitigation measure. Resource consents were granted in both 2013/14 and 2014/15 to remove single protected trees. No resource consents were granted in 2011/12, 2012/13, or since 2015/16 to remove protected trees. However, as referred to above, protected trees may have been removed as a permitted activity if considered by an approved arborist to be dead, dying or terminally damaged. However, as referred to above, protected trees may have been removed as a permitted activity if considered by an approved arborist to be dead, dying or terminally damaged.
Two consent notices required the protection of notable trees in 2012/13. There have been no similar consent notices in the years since.
In 2014/15, Plan Change 48 – Protected Trees commenced, which reviewed the rules and provisions relating to protected trees, as well as Schedule 3 in the District Plan, which lists all protected trees in our District.
All currently protected trees were examined by an arborist, using the Standard Tree Evaluation Method to assess and score them. Council nominated a STEM threshold score of 140 that all trees included in Schedule 3 must meet and then held a public formal submission process in 2015/16.
As a consequence of Plan Change 48, which became operative in 2016/17, 97 individual or groups of trees achieve the threshold of 140 and have been protected by Schedule 3A the District Plan. 129 trees or groups of trees were removed from the schedule and are longer protected by the District Plan. A further 46 items, including stands of trees and remnants of bush, were transferred to schedule 3B: “Outstanding or Significant natural features and other protected items”.
Council will maintain a record of location, by ward, of protected trees that are removed annually. None were removed in either the 2016/17 or 2017/18 years.
Council receives many complaints concerning amenity values. The majority of complaints are about noise, mainly loud music. There was a large increase in the number of complaints between 2008/09 and 2011/12 and a moderate increase in 2016/17. In 2017/18, the number of complaints dropped to its lowest rate in seven years. The reduction was mainly due to a reduction in the number of noise complaints. Other noise complaints were about machinery or tools, motorbike and car noise, or noise early in the morning. It is these complaints, which are few in number, that are more likely to affect people’s perception of the amenity of the district.
Matamata-Piako Residents' Perception of Their Local Environment
The 2013 Waikato Regional Perception Survey found that 76.4 per cent of respondents from the Matamata-Piako District were satisfied with the ‘unique or special character of your town’. This has increased from 74 per cent satisfaction in the 2010 survey.
The 2013 survey also asked ‘how strongly do you agree or disagree with that you feel a sense of pride in the way your district looks and feels?’. 76 per cent of respondents agreed with this statement, which is consistent with the survey in 2007 and 2010.
In 2000, 2003 and 2006 the Waikato Regional Council, then known as Environment Waikato, surveyed people in the Waikato region to get their views on environmental issues. A similar study was repeated in 2013, and the most important environmental issues that were identified by Matamata-Piako residents were:
|Water Pollution - 28%||Water Pollution - 25%||Water Quality and Supply - 19%||Water – Pollution/Quality – 32%|
|Waste Disposal - 27%||Sprays and Pesticides - 6%||Water Polltuion - 15%||Water – availability and suitability for use – 19%|
|General Pollution - 8%||General Pollution - 6%||Don't Know.No Reply - 10%||Don’t Know – 15%|
|Air Polltuion - 6%||Rubbish Disposal - 6%||Air Pollution - 8%||Drought – 10%|
|Don't Know - 14%||Animal Pest and Disease - 4%||Effluent disposal/run off - 8%||Waikato River – 5%|
The Waikato Regional Council also asked residents if they thought the overall state of their local environment had improved.
Since 2000 the number of Matamata-Piako residents who consider the overall state of their local environment to have improved has decreased steadily. However, an increasing number of people consider that the overall statement of the environment is the same, and slightly fewer people think it is worse.
Participation in Protecting the Environment
In the Matamata-Piako District in 2000, 18% of residents had taken action to protect the environment and 42% of those people believed their action was effective.
In 2003 16% of residents had taken direct action for the protection of the environment through methods such as attending meetings, preparing submissions or writing to Council. Of the residents that had taken direct action, 49% believed that their actions were effective. 14% of respondents had not taken any action to protect the environment.
In 2006, of the respondents who had been involved in public action, 87% of these perceived the effectiveness of the public action to be fairly or very effective. This is a significant increase from 2003.
In 2013, some survey questions were worded differently from those in the earlier surveys, and the overall percentage of people who took action to protect the environment was no longer recorded. However, the following statistics were recorded:
8% of residents were involved in public action or meetings. Of those residents who had taken public action, 39% were on a committee or attended a meeting, and 30% participated in an action group. 50% of people who were involved in public action perceived the effectiveness of that action to be very effective.
What Council Is Doing
Council is able to impose conditions on new development to reduce impacts on amenity. These include the control of noise, dust, odour, glare, vibration, spray drift and signage, and more than one condition may be imposed on a resource consent. The number of conditions imposed has increased since 2012/13. The 188 conditions imposed on 94 resource consents in 2015/16 is the highest number recorded to date.
The number of amenity conditions varies from year to year with the type of activities applying for consent and the environmental effects they may have. This increase also reflects a shift in attitude by Council’s Regulatory Planners towards being transparent about what is acceptable in terms of amenity effects. To achieve this they have been applying conditions to consents clearly stating the limits of what is acceptable. In the past the planners have relied on the limits specified in the District Plan.
Significant Natural Features Grant
Council is also working with local land owners to protect the district’s significant natural features. Landowners who think they have a significant site on their property can apply for a Significant Natural Features Grant to help pay for fencing off the site.
This grant was established in 2006 when Council worked with an ecologist to determine significant native vegetation in the district. 667 units of habitat totaling 3,111 hectares have been surveyed and 23% of this area (721 hectares) was considered significant. Of the total area surveyed, 78% was determined to be indigenous (predominantly native species), 20% (mainly non-native species) and 2% was not determined.
The significant features included native indigenous vegetation, such as native tree stands, areas of bush, and wetlands. Council, along with a working party made up from different sectors of the community, considered different incentives to offer landowners who fence off and protect significant natural features.
Council is happy to provide an ecologist to survey potentially significant sites that have not already been visited within the district. Please contact Customer Services to discuss this further.
What You Can Do To Help
Contact Council if you are affected by loud noise or offensive odours
How Are We Doing?
Anticipated Environmental Results
|A reduction in the number of complaints from the public concerning the adverse effects of activities|
|Improved public perception of general amenity in the built environment, particularly urban areas||
(This could be 'achieving' if we had some baseline data to show ‘improvement’ against)
|Evolution of a more interesting and varied urban form||
(Applications for breaches to standards appear limited in range and number)
|Maintenance and enhancement of building, site and visual appearance in rural, residential and business areas|
|Retention of the special heritage character of Te Aroha, the "garden city" character of Matamata and introduction of the mainstreet concept in Morrinsville|
|Reduced incidence of nuisance affecting residential, business and recreational areas||
|Minimal adverse visual amenity and traffic safety effects from signs and advertising||
|Establishment of increasing number of innovative and comprehensive residential development with generous amenity provision|
|Longer term improvements in environmental health and safety due to reduced rural nuisance and improved management of agricultural spray usage and application|
|Visual amenity of significant landscape areas is unchanged or improved|
|Increase in number of trees planted in the district by Council and private landowners|
Click here to learn more about District Plan Effectiveness and read the full report on Amenity
For More Information
Matamata-Piako District Council
PO Box 266, Te Aroha 3342
Phone: 07 884 0060
Fax: 07 884 8865