Establish and operate Education Centre and Biodiversity Laboratory in an Outstanding Natural Landscape Area and Cultural Landscape Area
The proposal is a Discretionary Activity under the Waipa District Plan. The proposal will have less than minor adverse effects on the environment and is not contrary to the relevant objectives and policies of the Waipa District Plan.
The building has been architecturally designed so that it is low lying, follows the form of the land and will be painted in a complying natural landscape colour thus protecting the outstanding landscape values. The building will be further integrated into the natural environment through native planting as required.
The education centre and biodiversity laboratory is a non‐farming activity, however is intrinsically linked to the existing nature tourism operation on the site and the adjacent the Ecological Island and therefore has a functional and compelling reason to be located in the Rural Zone and in this location in particular.
The site is currently occupied by the Centre and car park adjoining the northern boundary, and several existing sheds towards the south-eastern boundary of the site.
Two existing vehicle entrances located in the north-east and south-east corners of the site provide access to Road. The topography is undulating, generally falling from the north towards the southern boundary, with various forms of vegetation located sporadically through the site.
The properties directly adjoining the site are also zoned Rural and have been developed for a combination of rural-residential living, and various agricultural and conservation activities. In addition, the north-western boundary immediately adjoins the Ecological Island. The Road is classified as a local road under the Waipa District Plan Road Hierarchy.
The Trust has now established Walking tracks, a tree canopy tower, a pre-release aviary, and other features have been created to enrich the experience of visitors to the scenic reserve, and help them learn of New Zealand's unique natural history.
The Trust proposes constructing a multi-use Education Centre and Biodiversity Laboratory at Pukeatua.
The Education Centre and Biodiversity Laboratory will be capable of hosting 90+ people (3 classes plus teachers/parents). This building will enable us to deliver a high impact multimedia presentation to school groups and also develop an innovative hands-on citizen science education experience.
The proximity to the Southern Enclosure and the Wetland will give significantly more time with the school visits compared to our existing program which involves moving the students from our existing prefab at the School 1.5km away for the southern enclosure.
Currently, the nearby prefab at the School is limited in its ability to host groups of students. Catering to school groups is necessary because school trips are more viable when the bus bringing the students is fully utilised. This lack of facility has severely constrained the Trust’s ability to deliver the education programme.
The building shall be utilised for educational purposes only, this includes: community, school and tertiary education programs, conservation workshops and cultural, health and wellness education programs.
The operation of the education centre and biodiversity laboratory is restricted to the following hours:
- 8am to 10pm ‐ Monday to Friday; and
- 8am to 7pm ‐ Saturday to Sunday.