Vehicle Access Restrictions- do they affect your development?

During the site design process, many people often forget to check if a Vehicle Access Restrictions (VAR) applies to the site. We often receive enquiries from people with s37 certificates on their building consents requiring resource consent for VAR infringements even though the proposal complies with the relevant zone standards and general parking and access standards. This can create timing delays and resulting costs with starting your works. But what is a VAR?


When does a VAR apply?


The Auckland Unitary Plan – Operative in Part (AUP(OP)) seeks to ensure vehicle accesses and crossings are designed and located to provide safe and efficient access for vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists. Areas where a VAR applies are those where there is a potential higher transportation risk, and specific assessment is needed. This includes risk to other motorists, pedestrians and cyclists. Under Chapter E27 Transport of the AUP(OP), a VAR applies to the following circumstances:

  • The site is located within 10m from a road intersection,

  • The site has frontage to an arterial road (these are identified in the Unitary Plan maps- under the “Controls” option),

  • The site is located within 30m from a railway level crossing limit line,

  • Parts of the site boundary are subject to the controls or types of VAR indicated on the Auckland Unitary Plan map. This includes:

  • Vehicle Access Restriction – General Control as shown on the planning maps in the Business – City Centre Zone,

  • Key Retail Frontage Control,

  • Vehicle Access Restriction General Control (except for Business – City Centre Zone),

  • Vehicle Access Restriction Motorway Interchange Control,

  • Vehicle Access Restriction Level Crossing Control.



Do you need a resource consent?

Firstly, check if a VAR applies (as discussed above). A resource consent is then required if your proposal involves the following:

  • Construction of a new vehicle crossing. Be aware that any changes to the existing crossing (for example widening the crossing) is treated as a new vehicle crossing.

  • If an existing vehicle crossing that was established or consented before September 2013 is utilised to service the below activities:

  • a new activity (this could include for example a new dwelling, minor dwelling or a new business),

  • a change of activity type,

  • New buildings and or additions in specific zones.


We recommend you discuss your proposal with a planner and review all the relevant rules in the context of your specific proposal. You can find the relevant rules in the AUP(OP) here.


Your resource consent application must include an Assessment of Environmental Effects (AEE) which provides details of the activity you are proposing and assesses the potential adverse transportation effects to the surrounding road networks. The Unitary Plan sets out the matters you must assess, and the overarching objectives and policies. Your planner will assess these in your AEE.


What should I look at if the VAR applies for my site?

There are several things you can consider in site development to reduce potential adverse effects and improve the changes of your resource consent application being approved. These include:


  1. Separation from road intersections – Locate vehicle crossing as far away from the road intersection as possible to minimise conflicts at the intersection.

  2. Number and width of crossing – Minimise the number and width of vehicle crossing by sharing access on the same site or adjacent sites.

  3. Sightlines – Boundary treatments including low and permeable fence and low-lying vegetation within the front yard, particularly along the front boundary, can help provide good sightlines from the crossing. Consider also the impact of boundary treatments and vegetation on neighbouring sites on sight lines- try to locate the crossing to maximise sight lines.

  4. On-site maneuvering – The site layout and parking arrangement should be designed to provide sufficient on-site maneuvering spaces to ensure all the vehicles can reverse on the site and exit the site in a forward direction. This minimises safety effects on pedestrians and improves overall visibility for drivers.

  5. Driveway gradient – A near-level driveway platform at the crossing ensures drivers can stop safely to check for any vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists approaching the site.



These factors will all assist to reduce potential transportation impacts. However, you should always discuss your specific proposal further with your planner and in some cases also a traffic engineer (depending on the scale and location of what’s proposed).


Need more advice?

Planning for vehicle access and crossing where VAR applies can be a major constraints on your site design. It is important to get planning advice at an early stage of a project to check whether VAR applies to your site and what considerations need to be taken into account in your design.


If you are unsure how a VAR will affect your development, then don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at Planning Plus. You can contact us on hello@planningplus.co.nz or (09) 427 9966. We also have a lot of other blogs on our website that can help you with your resource consent journey.


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