Key Topics: Landscape Values
The Pukehāngi Heights Development Area is located on the lower slopes of the Rotorua Caldera Rim.
The landscape values of the Caldera Rim have been assessed in the ‘Rotorua Caldera Rim – Caldera Rim Rural Character Design Guideline’ (October 2012) which also provides guidance on how to integrate growth and land use change into the landscape.
The Caldera Rim landscape is recognised as being highly valued by the Rotorua community.
The Design Guideline identifies the Pukehāngi Heights Development Area as being within the ‘less sensitive rural landscape’ situated below the RL385 contour. Above this contour, rural or natural character values should be maintained. Below this contour, the landscape still contains important character and amenity values but is less sensitive to land use change.
The land form of the Pukehāngi Heights Development Area broadly comprises two terraces with an escarpment between. The Lower Terrace adjoins Pukehāngi Road and slowly rises to meet the steep mid-site Escarpment. The land then rises to a broad Upper Terrace extending northwest/southeast with intervening valleys. The Upper Terrace has a steep escarpment backdrop.
The landscape assessment is that the lower and upper terraces can generally be developed for residential use with moderate-low landscape and visual effects. Development on the more prominent escarpment edges requires careful design to mitigate localised visual effects.
The Mid-site Escarpment, being more prominent and visually sensitive, is better suited to much lower density development in clusters with a strong green corridor of native vegetation banding along and across much of this area. This will help to ensure that the development integrates well with the adjoining Parklands development. Those areas of the escarpment closer to Matipo Ave can be less vegetated with a more open space, rural character.
The Structure Plan identifies the key areas that are sensitive to landscape change, specifically the Upper Escarpment, the Mid-Site Escarpment and the Escarpment Transition Areas 1 and 2.
The plan change includes a general landscape principle: ‘Development that responds to the landscape values of the Caldera Rim and the topography of the area’, along with place specific principles which describe the landscape outcomes intended. For example, in the mid site escarpment the first principle is a ‘Partially re-vegetated native bush and specimen tree network to form a backdrop to the development on the Lower Terrace’.
Objectives and Policies are also proposed to guide development (see A5.2A.2)
Subdivision controls to manage landscape effects
Subdivision within the more visually sensitive parts of the site require a landscape and visual assessment. In addition, within the mid site escarpment details of the revegetation will form part of the conditions of consent. Finally, the plan change proposes the revegetation of the Upper Escarpment. This will be triggered by the subdivision of the Upper Terrace.
Land use controls to manage landscape effects
The plan change also includes controls on buildings within the more sensitive landscape areas. For example, within the escarpment transition area 2 (which is at the top of the mid-site escarpment) there are additional controls on the height of buildings, yards, modulation of buildings, density, reflectivity and controls on retaining walls and fences.
 See Landscape and Visual Effects Assessment – Boffa Miskell Ltd 22 February 2019