Submissions closing soon on Natural Character variation to our Proposed District Plan 01 December 2015 You have until Friday 4 December to make a submission on introducing Natural Character provisions back into our Proposed District Plan The Natural Character provisions and overlay were withdrawn from the Proposed District Plan in response to the collective scope of submissions received on natural character. At the same time our Council resolved to initiate a variation to introduce natural character back into the Plan. The variation identifies 87 areas of high and outstanding natural character. The variation affects approximately 584 properties totalling 9,700 ha in private ownership, which is roughly 4.5% of the total District land area. Our Council is required by national and regional policy to have provisions in our District Plan to preserve natural character. "We have made contact with everyone who made a submission on Natural Character in the Proposed District Plan, as well as the 584 property owners within the proposed overlay, explaining the variation, " says Leigh Robcke, District Plan Manager. The variation identifies two levels of Natural Character which are mapped on the overlay planning maps: Outstanding Natural Character - these are natural areas that are largely unmodified (e.g. the land between Kennedy Bay and Wainuiototo (New Chum) Bay) High Natural Character - these are natural areas with some degree of modification or development (e.g. the coastal fringe north of Hot Water Beach to Orua Bay) If a property has an area of natural character mapped on it then the Natural Character provisions of the variation will apply to that part of the property covered by the overlay. The rules are focused on managing activities that will affect the values and characteristics of natural character areas. The highest level of control is applied to outstanding natural character areas. All information held by the Council, including District Plan provisions is included in property LIM reports. "In the information we're putting out to the public, we include criteria to assess Natural Character and some explanation about why that particular unit has 'high' or 'outstanding' natural character," says Mr Robcke. "We’re not saying this is final - we have provided detailed information so the public can make an informed submission and the District Plan Hearings Panel will make decisions on submissions." At this stage hearings are set down for early 2016 so decisions on the Variation can dovetail into the decisions on the rest of the Proposed District Plan. To find out more about making a submission on this click here. Timeline of events 13 December 2013 - Proposed District Plan publicly notified.14 March 2014 - Submissions closed.16 June 2014 - Further submissions closed.4 March 2015 - Council resolved to withdraw the natural character overlay provisions from the Proposed District Plan.28 April and 3 August 2015 - Council workshops on Natural Character.28 October 2015 - Council resolved to adopt the Natural Character variation for public notification.6 November 2015 - Public submissions open for Natural Character Variation.4 December 2015 - Public submission period closes for Natural Character Variation.