The need to protect what is left of the Tararua Range skyline from wind turbines has been recognised in the “City View” introduction to Palmerston North’s District Plan.
Hearing commissioners have released their decision approving the sectional plan change, and have beefed up the requirement to provide for the protection of outstanding natural features and landscapes.
The commissioners said the proposed plan change did not go far enough to give effect to the landscape policies of the regional One Plan, which recognises the significance of the Tararua Range skyline.
City planner David Murphy agreed with the change.
He said it was consistent with the resource consent granted to Mighty River Power to develop the proposed Turitea Wind Farm, which excluded many of the turbines from the skyline to preserve views.
Murphy said that as well as providing a foundation for considering any future wind farm applications, the clause would be significant when the council reviewed the rural zone section of the District Plan.
“We will have to identify and manage the cumulative effects,” he said.
City council senior policy planner Cynthia Ward is preparing background material for the review of the rural zone.
A fundamental task would be to define exactly what the skyline was, as it could vary depending on whether people were looking at it from Mt Stewart, from Fitzherbert Ave in Palmerston North, or closer.
Once defined, the area would be protected by planning rules and controls that were yet to be drafted.
The rules could influence the height, shape and colour of structures, and could extend to adjoining land if any development was likely to extend into the air and be seen interrupting views of the ridge line.
Murphy said the City View section of the plan was a general introduction, which did not go into particular rules and details, but set the tone for the rest of the sectional District Plan review.
It incorporated principles from the council’s sustainable city, urban design and land use strategies, and reinforced the role of a compact city centre as Palmerston North’s commercial heart.
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