Residential Growth Indicators (what we measure)
Recent census data shows a slight growth in population of the three main centres of Morrinsville, Matamata, and Te Aroha. Rural population shows a slight decrease between 1996 and 2006, but a slight increase between 2006 and 2013.
Residential growth puts extra pressure on the use of good quality soils for agricultural purposes, and also can create adverse effects from the construction, location and dominance of new buildings. New development can also affect the open space character of residential and rural areas. Growth in the number of dwellings is likely to be an issue, as between 2006 and 2013 the district’s population increased by 3.5 per cent, while the number of dwellings increased by 8.8 per cent.
As of 2009/10 there are a total of 1896 hectares of land zoned for residential and rural-residential purposes in the district. In 2015/16 there were 460 lots between 2,500 and 10,000 m² in the areas zoned Residential and Rural-Residential. 14 residential or rural-residential lots between 2,500m2 and 1 hectare in area were granted consent in 2016/17, and 16 additional lots were granted consent in 2017/18.
Between 2008/09 and 2017/18, 892 new residential lots have been granted subdivision consents. This has included major developments such as:
- An 86 lot development in Banks Road, Matamata, in two stages from 2009/10 to 2010/11.
- A 44 lot development in Mangawhero Road, Matamata in 2016/17.
- A 32 lot development in Fairway, Morrinsville in 2016/17.
- A 155 lot development in Jellicoe Road, Matamata, in 2017/18, to be created in five stages.
In 2017/18, the total of 270 new lots was the highest in the last 10 years. Residential subdivision between 2013/14 and 2015/16 all stemmed from small-scale, two lot subdivisions, except for a four lot subdivision in 2015/16.
Between 2008/09 and 2017/18, 989 building consents have been granted for the creation of new dwellings within the Residential Zone. Nearly a fifth of these consents were granted in the 2008/09 year, after which the number of building consents granted dropped sharply, until a rebound in 2015/16 and 2016/17. This is likely to be due to the economic recession of the late 2000s and its lingering impact on the economy. The increasing economic confidence of recent years has resulted in house price growth and a building boom which helps explain the sharp increase of building consents granted in 2015/16 to 2016/17. However, the 2017/18 figure of 101 building consents is very close to the annual average over the last ten years.
The Resource Management Amendment Act 2017 amended the RMA so that from 2017/18 subdivision will be permitted unless it is expressly restricted by a District Plan rule or a National Environmental Standard, which indicates that subdivision is potentially acceptable as a permitted activity in certain circumstances.
Development controls are in place for new developments to ensure any negative impacts are minimised. These include ‘maximum heights for buildings’, ‘yards’, ‘site coverage’, etc. The number of resource consents granted to breach development controls has generally followed the level of activity in residential subdivision and building construction over the last ten years. This suggests that, at this stage, the existing development controls are not creating increasing pressure on the efficient use of land.
Since 2007/08, no resource consent applications have been declined for non-compliance with Council development controls. The potential cost of making a resource consent application may discourage people from submitting designs which contravene the development control rules. It’s possible that the costs involved with an unsuccessful resource consent application might offset the potential gain made from increased building intensity or height.
Protected Trees and Amenity
New development can also affect amenity values through the removal of trees protected by the District Plan. A total of five consents have been issued to remove trees in the last 10 years.
During 2008, Council completed a plan change to amend the tree protection provisions within the District Plan. Previously, a resource consent was required to remove, or do any major work to any tree in the urban area that was over 10 metres in height, which was deemed to be too restrictive. In addition, changes to the Resource Management Act meant that only trees 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 resource consent was needed to remove a tree, and to also remove unnecessary restrictions.
The plan change allows notable trees to be removed as a permitted activity if they are dead, dying or terminally damaged. This change has been reflected in the reduced number of consents granted for tree removal.
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 listed all 272 protected trees and outstanding or significant natural features 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 threshold score of 140 that all trees proposed for protection 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”.