Con­tro­ver­sial fencing rules shelved

The Tribune (NZ) - - COMMUNITY COOKBOOK - JA­NINE RANKIN

Palmer­ston North home­own­ers have won a vic­tory in the bat­tle against red tape af­ter con­tro­ver­sial fencing rules were turfed out.

The rules would have re­stricted peo­ple’s rights to build solid new 1.8 me­tre fences along their street fronts and fac­ing pub­lic parks and open spa­ces.

The idea was to avoid ‘‘mo­not­o­nous’’ streets where most houses were walled in.

The pro­posal, raised in the re­view of the res­i­den­tial zone sec­tion of the Dis­trict Plan, was la­belled ‘‘silly’’ by de­trac­tors.

Af­ter re­source man­age­ment com­mis­sion­ers heard sub­mis­sions op­pos­ing the rules in May 2016, they re­jected the re­stric­tions.

They said in a de­ci­sion re­leased last week that they had driven around Palmer­ston North and found many pleas­ant streets had sig­nif­i­cant lengths of high fenced or planted road frontages.

They saw few links be­tween fencing pat­terns, and what could be de­scribed as at­trac­tive streetscapes.

‘‘While we un­der­stand the (undis­puted) ur­ban de­sign evidence that the se­cu­rity, pri­vacy and amenity ben­e­fits of high fences are il­lu­sory, the fact is that a great many peo­ple ob­vi­ously be­lieve oth­er­wise.

‘‘We are not con­vinced that the pro­posed rule is nec­es­sary.’’

Sub­mit­ter Paul He­witt, who had de­scribed the pro­pos­als as more ‘‘red tape’’, said the de­ci­sion was ‘‘beau­ti­ful’’.

Ar­chi­tec­tural de­signer Michael Jarvis said peo­ple had been ‘‘quite up­set’’ about the pro­posed fencing rules, that would have been im­pos­si­ble to en­force.

‘‘I’m rel­a­tively im­pressed that they lis­tened,’’ he said.

Coun­cil plan­ner Matthew Mackay said the com­mis­sion­ers’ de­ci­sion meant peo­ple could have 2m fences around their bound­aries so long as they com­plied with the Build­ing Act.

He said the com­mis­sion­ers had ac­knowl­edged the im­por­tance of good ur­ban de­sign, and the coun­cil would con­tinue to of­fer peo­ple in­for­ma­tion and ad­vice on the ben­e­fits of en­cour­ag­ing in­ter­ac­tion be­tween the street and houses.

As well as the fencing rules, pro­pos­als re­strict­ing the lo­ca­tion of garages were a key is­sue in the re­view.

The coun­cil had pro­posed garages should be set back 1.5m from the front of the house, to avoid streets be­ing dom­i­nated by garages.

But the com­mis­sion­ers found the pro­posal did not cater for lay­outs where ve­hi­cles en­tered a garage from the side, not di­rectly from the street.

The fi­nal de­ci­sion was that garages should be set back 3m from the frontage, and 6m where the garage faced the street, to al­low room to park a ve­hi­cle in front with­out ex­tend­ing on to the foot­path.

Mackay said the plan change would make it eas­ier for peo­ple to build a va­ri­ety of hous­ing to cater for dif­fer­ent needs.

RE­GAN ROBIN­SON

Fencing re­stric­tions pro­posed for Palmer­ston North have been re­jected by com­mis­sion­ers.

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