Plan Change 48A - Outstanding Natural Features and Landscapes


In 2020 Council embarked on pre-consultation on the Plan Change 48 - Significant Natural Areas and Landscapes. Plan Change 48 was to include provisions for both indigenous biodiversity and landscapes, and between September 2020 and February 2023 we engaged with landowners and the wider community to discuss the important natural areas, native bush and landscapes in Upper Hutt in more detail. 

Since then, Plan Change 48 has been separated into Plan Change 48A (Outstanding Natural Features and Landscapes) and Plan Change 48B (Indigenous Biodiversity), and Council is currently progressing with Plan Change 48A (Outstanding Natural Features and Landscapes).

We have been working to identify the outstanding natural features and landscapes (ONFLs) within Upper Hutt.  This work builds on and refines the work undertaken previously as part of Tiaki Taiao.

The landscapes within Upper Hutt define the characteristics and unique identity of the city, and Plan Change 48A will identify the number and extent of ONFLs in Upper Hutt. It will also include provisions that recognise the identified values of ONFLs in the district and protect them from inappropriate activities while enabling appropriate activities to take place.

Council intends to notify Plan Change 48A and invite submissions later in 2024.

Why are we doing this?

The Resource Management Act (RMA) requires the protection of outstanding natural features and landscapes as a matter of national importance. The Regional Policy Statement for the Wellington Region (RPS) also requires all city and district councils to identify and protect these areas. 

The RMA expressly states councils must give effect to the RPS, and Councils are at different stages of introducing policies and rules to protect these habitats.  


What is an Outstanding Natural Feature and Landscape (ONFL)

Natural landscapes and features that are exceptional with natural components that dominate over the influence of human activity. They are assessed as part of a landscape evaluation process, taking into account factors such as natural science, sensory elements and the shared and recognised values of these areas


How are the ONFLs identified?

We have been working with landscape specialists Isthmus to map Upper Hutt’s outstanding natural features and landscapes. The methodology is based on current landscape best practice, case law and the Regional Policy Statement criteria (Policy 25) which requires the natural science, sensory and shared and recognised factors of the district to be assessed. The assessment also considers historic and tangata whenua values and includes input from local iwi.


What is the current stage of this plan change?

We are currently refining the ONFL areas and drafting proposed provisions for Plan Change 48A. 

We will be shortly looking to engage with landowners potentially impacted by these provisions as part of our pre-consultation prior to publicly notifying the plan change. This feedback will be considered as part of preparing the plan change.  


What about Special Amenity Landscapes?

The Policy 27 of the Regional Policy Statement for the Greater Wellington Region reads: 

"District and regional plans may identify special amenity landscapes which are distinctive, widely recognised and highly valued by the community for their contribution to the amenity and quality of the environment of the district, city or region." 

As a result, it is up to Council to decide whether to identify SALs in the District Plan.

On 22 February 2023, the Upper Hutt City Council Policy Committee resolved to remove Significant Natural Landscapes (SALs) from the scope of Plan Change 48A. This decision was based on the recommendations made by the Landscapes Reference Group. The meeting agenda and minutes of this Council decision can be found below:

22 February 2023 - Minutes

22 February 2023 - Agenda




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