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Auckland Unitary Plan

Bid to cut appeals draws fire

Auckland Council’s bid to fast-track the draft Auckland Unitary Plan by removing the public’s appeal rights to the Environment Court has drawn fire from heritage advocates and senior resource management lawyers.

The council fears a large number of appeals will slow implementation of the rule book for the Auckland Plan’s aims for supply and affordability of housing and economic growth.

Environment Minister Amy Adams said yesterday officials were looking at possible ways of streamlining the process to reduce cost and increase certainty but no decision on an alternative had been decided.

She said any changes must ensure the community had a full say in developing the Unitary Plan.

A court case relies on competing evidence from submitters, tested through lawyers’ cross examination. Appeals filed are put through mediation in an effort to solve them without needing a costly hearing.

Heritage advocate Allan Matson said his celebrated rescue of the 1855 Fitzroy Hotel from a council demolition order would not have been possible under the proposed no appeals system.

“If we trust the council to represent developers and the public that’s fine.

“But if the council and developers want to fiddle things about then we want the ability to hold them accountable. The appeal system is transparent,” he said.

Paul Cavanagh, QC, of the Herne Bay Residents’ Association, has asked the minister to scrap the idea of “stripping 1.5 million residents of their rights to question the plan”.

He said there was no justification for eliminating the rights of the region’s special interest groups, commercial interests which aided its economy and residents’ associations.

Leaving the planning to politicians and officials was a recipe for disaster.

“There is a very good reason for the planning process – it’s about having checks in place that test the robustness of the plan.”

The Property Council’s advisers say the Super City council should be improving its own procedures which caused delays and try for a two-year limit on the appeal process.

Lawyer Russell Bartlett said the Environment Court was the place to decide acceptable rules for high-density housing and the location of the rural urban boundary.

Auckland Council chief planning officer Dr Roger Blakeley said the council made no criticism of the court in seeking a tailor-made streamlined process for the biggest planning process in New Zealand history.

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Written by Wayne Thompson
Published by: The New Zealand Herald

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Heritage Media Coverage

Heritage groups to fightback demolition plans

Going? Number 8 Lee Street in Parnell
The loss of two more early properties in Grey Lynn and plans to demolish an 1885 wooden cottage in Parnell is prompting a fightback from heritage and community groups this week.

Tomorrow a citywide coalition of 22 heritage and residents’ groups will present a “bold plan” to Mayor Len Brown to better protect the city’s built heritage.

The coalition has already urged the council to follow the footsteps of another Super City, Brisbane, and publicly notify all applications to demolish old houses in character areas.

It will offer Mr Brown the services of its members to speed up the assessment of old buildings and areas in the city.

Tomorrow evening, Grey Lynn 2030 is holding a public meeting to discuss the growing trend of old villas being removed to make way for new houses and protecting the suburb’s special character.

The community group was spurred into action after a bay villa was moved off its site at 63 Francis St so the owners could build a larger, replica villa with four bedrooms, a swimming pool and basement garaging.

It is also upset to see demolition begin on the Bethany Centre, the former Salvation Army home for pregnant women, in Dryden St, Grey Lynn, so five houses can be built on the site.

The Dryden St and Francis St sites are just outside the Residential 1 zone, which would have required resource consent and possibly public notification.

Last Friday, the council’s hearings committee voted to give affected neighbours a say on the proposed demolition of an 1885 villa at 8 Lee St in Parnell, rather than throw it open to possible objections from the wider community, including the Parnell Heritage watchdog group.

Officers had recommended the application to demolish the cottage be approved.

But this met with stiff opposition from Waitemata councillor Mike Lee, Waitemata Local Board chairman Shale Chambers and Parnell Heritage.

Said Mr Lee said last week: “Auckland’s heritage is still under unremitting attack. House by house, street by street, the council-approved destruction goes on.”

The council’s heritage team reported the house was a poor quality structure that had been significantly modified since 1940.

Public meeting: Grey Lynn RSC, 1 Francis St, Wednesday at 7pm

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Written by: By Wayne Thompson and Bernard Orsman
Photo by: Dean Purcell
Published in: NZ Herald – nzherald.co.nz Tuesday September 11, 2012

Categories
Current Issues Transport Issues

Anger over T3 lane extension

Onewa Rd business owners are angry at what they say is a lack of communication from Auckland Transport on the proposed T3 lane extension.

Public feedback is being sought over a proposal to turn the west-bound Onewa Rd lane into a T3.

The proposed T3 lane will run between Church St and Birkenhead Ave in the evening commuter peak between 4pm and 6pm. A T3 transit lane already operates east-bound on Onewa during morning peak.

Flowers on Onewa owner Ron Suyker has worked in the area for 21 years and says several retailers are angry about the proposal.

“It’s not a simple case of putting in a lane and going ‘that’s all well and good’.”

The former council made designated time-restricted car parking for Mr Suyker’s flower shop on Onewa Rd “for decades” but now plans to shift it into a side street between 4pm and 6pm.

He worries traffic diverted into Seaview Ave will perform three-point turns and block driveways in the narrow street where the designated parks will go.

“It’s putting them into a residential side street which is not designed for that carry-on.”

Commuters already use Seaview as a “pseudo park and ride”, he says, meaning even more traffic will block up the side street.

Auckland Transport media liaison Mark Hannan says: “The car parks on Onewa Rd will not be available between 4pm and 6pm but alternative time-restricted parking will be available in Seaview Ave and Wernham Place.”

Mr Hannan says Auckland Transport will consult with affected business owners.

Many have been given consultation packs outlining the proposed changes, he says.

Mr Suyker disputes Auckland Transport’s research on traffic use on Onewa Rd, saying 41 per cent of people commuting will travel in 7 per cent of the vehicles using the T3 lane.

Around 93 per cent of all vehicles travelling west-bound between 4pm and 6pm will be forced into the non-T3 lane, he says.

Mr Hannan responds: “A T3 lane moves the most people in the shortest time.

“Forty one per cent of the people who use Onewa Rd are in a bus and each bus has an average of 41 passengers. Add people in cars with three or more people and we account for 48 per cent of people who use Onewa Rd.”

Mr Suyker has started a petition against the T3 lane in his store.

Information on Auckland Transport’s website regarding the T3 lane has been updated.

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Written by: JESS ETHERIDGE
Published: Auckland Now – North Shore Times

Categories
Property Reports

First home buyers – how relevant are they for the Birkenhead and Northcote Point residential property markets?

by Hayden Stanaway.

Hayden Stanaway is the general manager of residential sales for Bayleys on the North Shore.
Hayden Stanaway is the general manager of residential sales for Bayleys on the North Shore.

The latest BNZ/Real Estate Institute of New Zealand residential market survey notes that the real estate industry has seen a 42 percent rise in first home buyers appearing at open homes.

Is this relevant for home owners in Birkenhead and Northcote Point looking to sell their property? No… and yes.

To be honest, not a lot of first-home buyers purchase real estate in Birkenhead and Northcote Point. To be blunt, most of the homes in these suburbs are out of their price bracket.

Let’s look at it from the cold, hard commercial facts. Most first home buyers in Auckland are aged in their 20s/early 30s. Only a small percent of those first home buyers in that age bracket have gross household incomes say of around $135,000 – with one earner on around $60K per annum and the other on $75K.

With those figures, they can borrow somewhere close to $570,000 at a mortgage rate of six percent. Realistically, even with a $50,000 deposit, $620,000 doesn’t buy a lot in Birkenhead Point or Northcote Point.

So if you hear a real estate salesperson saying your $million+ home is perfect for first home buyers, do the math first, and assess that for yourself.

However, first home buyers are an important part of the greater real estate cycle, so having them active again is important for those selling their homes in Birkenhead Point and Northcote Point.

Why? Because the first home ‘owners’ in the likes of Birkdale, Albany Basin, Glenfield, and Sunny Nook are selling to the first home buyers.

Those first home owners are then becoming second home buyers, trading up to the likes of Forest Hill, Hillcrest, and Bayswater. Combined with rising income levels as their careers improve, those second home owners are then becoming third home buyers…. in the likes of Birkenhead, Chatswood, Coastal Beachaven and Northcote Point.

So having plenty of action in the first stanza of the domino-effect is critical for movement in the middle to high end of the market. The cliché about getting one foot on the property ladder is so true.

To regain full momentum in the residential property market, all price bands need to become more fluid. Activity requires both a ‘push’ and a ‘pull’ mechanism. First home buyers are the push segment of the market.

Conversely, those home owners in Birkenhead and Northcote Point thinking about selling, are the ‘pull’ factor – pulling up those to the upper price brackets. The more Birkenhead and Northcote Point homes listed for sale, the bigger the pull factor.

When push and pull matrices work simultaneously, the property market really begins to move, from a volume perspective. With mortgage interest rates at historic lows of around 5.2 percent, the push factor is running hot.

There are vendors who have already taken advantage of the pull dynamic over the recent winter months – realising that a lack of listings have played into their favour.

Contact the author

Hayden Stanaway is the general manager of residential sales for Bayleys on the North Shore.
Phone: 09 487 0720
Mobile: 021 916 400
Email: hayden.stanaway@bayleys.co.nz

Categories
Media Coverage

Regional policy on spraying

Weeds in parks and streets are set to be controlled in the same way across the region with an emphasis on reduced chemical use.

But Auckland Council will ask people for their views before the policy is set in stone.

Out of control weeds and breaches of a chemical free policy were hot topics in North Shore earlier this year.

Concern peaked when chemical weed spraying was reported in March near children walking to a Shore primary school.

Auckland Transport said it was “significantly unhappy” with contractors and “sternly reminded” them not to do it again.

Earlier in the year the North Shore Times also reported on stinging criticism of out-of-control street weeds.

The arrival of the super-city split weed control between Auckland Council for parks and Auckland Transport for street weeds.

But Auckland Council plans to develop a policy in collaboration with council controlled organisations, including Auckland Transport.

A council officer’s report says Auckland Transport is required to help develop the policy and abide by it once it’s finalised.

Albany councillor Wayne Walker chairs the Environment and Sustainability Forum that has been reviewing progress on the policy.

Mr Walker failed to get support for a goal of no chemical spraying but is hopeful he can change opponents’ views.

He says it is an aspiration like a zero waste policy and believes this wasn’t grasped by everyone.

The forum is keen to see work speed up on the policy and Mr Walker hopes consultation will start in September or early October.

Progress is being keenly watched by the Weed Management Advisory that was set up two years ago over concerns about weed spraying practices under the super-city.

Spokeswoman Hana Blackmore says non-chemical methods, like the hot water spraying on the Shore, can come with big cost savings.

For example the council wouldn’t have to maintain a no spray register, she says.

Ms Blackmore says the weed policy appears to be heading in the right direction but should aim for zero chemical use.

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Written by: LIZ WILLIS
Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times

Categories
Current Issues Transport Issues

Onewa Road Transit Lane West

Auckland Transport proposes to introduce a T3 Transit lane Westbound on Onewa Road at Northcote during evening rush hour traffic. Feedback is sought from the public.

Onewa Road Transit Lane West
The proposed design solution intends to improve transport efficiency of Onewa Road in western direction during the evening peak period.

In brief:

The proposed T3 transit lane is part of building more efficient public transport network. This change will mean faster and more reliable travel time along Onewa Road because buses and carpool vehicles carrying three or more occupants are less likely to be stuck in traffic.

The existing westbound carriageway is 6.5m wide and provides space for on-street parking and a single traffic lane. The existing single-lane configuration, when transformed to two lanes, will provide for greater ease of travel.

The added lane will effectively serve as a means of prioritising higher occupancy vehicles along the proposed route. This will allow a more effective use of the available road space and improve efficiency and reliability of public transport system. The proposed scheme will also reduce travel time to most vehicles using the general traffic lane.

Submissions on the proposal close on September 12.

Resident feedback includes:

The intent of the proposal is stated to be to improve the efficiency of Onewa Road by introducing two lanes but restricting one of these lanes for the exclusive use of buses and T3 vehicles. Auckland Transport has provided design illustrations comparing the purported current road layout and the proposed layout incorporating a transit lane. Based on this, Auckland Transport has stated that single passenger cars (which account for 93% of the vehicle traffic) will experience reduced travel times as a result of being restricted to one lane in Onewa Road.

Unfortunately, the conclusions reached by Auckland Transport appear to be flawed. Fundamental to the flawed conclusion is the misleading illustration used by Auckland Transport depicting the current lane layout. This illustration shows that the existing layout of Onewa Road is a single lane in the section of Onewa Road subject to the proposal (Church Street to Birkenhead Avenue).

This is not correct. The section of westbound Onewa Road between Aorangi Place and Birkenhead Avenue is, in fact, two lanes – this covers about 25% of the identified route subject to the proposal. This double lane enables the single lane westbound traffic in Onewa Road, prior to the two-lane section, to effectively open out from a single lane into two lanes – this eases congestion and increases traffic flow capacity towards the lights at Birkenhead Ave and beyond.

The transit lane layout proposed by Auckland Transport dispenses with this two-lane capacity for the 93% of vehicles that use Onewa Road in the evening peak. Instead of these vehicles being able to spread over two lanes they will be restricted back to one lane which will result in restricted capacity which in turn will cause a ripple back effect increasing congestion further down Onewa Road.

The ramifications of this increased congestion for the vast majority (93%) of vehicles that use Onewa Road in the evening peak will mean that they will try and find an alternative route. This alternative route will almost certainly be via the Stafford Road off-ramp, through Little Shoal Bay (a reserve), up Maritime Terrace, Hinemoa Street and into either Birkenhead Avenue or Mokoia Road. This will have the undesirable effect of taking traffic from a Regional Arterial Road and forcing it onto Local Roads that already have capacity problems during the evening peak.

Accordingly, the proposal, as it is, is deficient in that it has not properly anticipated the detrimental effect on local roads. The proposal should, therefore, be withdrawn until a proper assessment has been made.

Categories
Current Issues Media Coverage Transport Issues

Birkenhead priority lane may go both ways

Commuters catching buses or car-pooling from Birkenhead to Auckland along Onewa Rd’s pioneering high-priority lane may also get faster trips home.

Auckland Transport is seeking public comment on whether to restrict one of the road’s two eastbound lanes to vehicles with at least three occupants during afternoon travel peaks, building on the success of the fast track now enjoyed by commuters headed for the harbour bridge in morning traffic.

The council agency hopes to operate a transit 3 (T3) lane from 4pm and 6pm on weekdays along more than half of Onewa Rd, between Church St and Birkenhead Ave.

That follows more than 10 years of running a high priority lane in the other direction, now down Onewa Rd to the motorway interchange.

Although it will leave less room for single-occupant vehicles, Auckland Transport estimates that buses carry about 41 per cent of people travelling back up Onewa Rd in the after-noons.

It expects cars carrying at least two passengers to boost use of a westbound T3 lane to 48 per cent of people travelling up the road, which carries about 26,000 vehicles daily, making it one of Auckland’s busiest routes.

The proposal will mean less parking on the southern side of Onewa Rd. Auckland Transport acknowledges that is likely to be contentious, but promises to minimise the effects by providing parking on side roads, with time restrictions.

Submissions on the proposal close on September 12.

The agency also intends upgrading the Onewa Rd footpath into a shared pedestrian and cycling facility, saying the new transit line will not be wide enough for pedallers using what is part of Auckland’s strategic regional biking network.ON THE WEB

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Written by: Mathew Dearnaley | Email Mathew
Published by: New Zealand Herald – nzherald.co.nz

Categories
Media Coverage Transport Issues

Wellington Street on-ramp to re-open

The NZ Transport Agency and Auckland Transport (AT) have announced plans to re-open the Wellington Street on-ramp in the city’s busy Central Motorway Junction.

The NZTA is planning to re-open the on-ramp to all traffic in about six weeks after the completion of necessary work – including the installation of ramp signals and final pavement works – to ensure it is safe to use.

The recommendation to re-open was made after a detailed investigation by the NZTA, Auckland Transport, Opus Consultants and Beca Engineering of the potential effects on Auckland’s transport network from re-opening the on-ramp or keeping it closed.

The NZTA’s acting State Highways Manager for Auckland and Northland, Steve Mutton, said the agency and Auckland Transport would be discussing the re-opening plans with local residents and other interested parties over the next few weeks.

Mr Mutton said the NZTA and AT received 710 submissions about the on-ramp: 72% of those submissions wanted it re-opened, 18% preferred it to stay closed to general traffic and 10% wanted a partial re-opening-

“This is a strong response reflecting a high level of community interest in the future of the Wellington Street on-ramp,” says Mr Mutton.

The recommendation to re-open the ramp is based on a transport assessment which indicates there is current capacity for vehicles to use Wellington Street without affecting the performance of the motorway in central Auckland, except for a period in the afternoon peak.

“These findings, together with the feedback we have received from the community, have lead us to support the recommendation from our working group for an opening at this time.” Mr Mutton says.

Mr Mutton adds, however, that the findings also warn Auckland’s growth and development will have an impact on the performance of the city’s network in the future.

“While there is room now on the motorway network to re-open Wellington Street, capacity is expected to reduce over time as the network has to accommodate more and more vehicles. The NZTA and Auckland Transport will be working together to monitor and manage the performance of the motorways and local roads, including the Wellington Street on-ramp,”

Mr Mutton said ramp signals will be used again at Wellington Street to control access to the motorway.

“Previously between seven and eight thousand vehicles used the on-ramp every day. The critical time is the weekday afternoon peak. The Vic Park tunnel improvements mean traffic is moving more quickly and ramp signalling will help ensure the motorway operates efficiently and safely for all drivers”.

The on-ramp has not been opened to general traffic since May 2011 when it was re-built as part of the

Victoria Park Tunnel project. It provides additional access from central Auckland to the northbound lanes of the tunnel and the Auckland Harbour Bridge on State Highway 1.

The working group‘s review was conducted over three months from May.

Feedback on the most positive effects of the on-ramp’s closure included less congestion and delays on the motorway, improved traffic flows on local roads near Wellington Street, and improved safety around local schools as well as for merging traffic on the motorway.

Negative effects identified by those who made submissions included delays to travel times; driver and resident frustration, “rat-running” through local streets, more heavy vehicles using local roads and an increased risk to safety locally due to drivers running red lights, making u-turns and driving too fast.

Mr Mutton thanked local communities for their patience during the on-ramp’s closure.

“We appreciate that the closure has had an impact on a large number of Aucklanders and we want to thank them for bearing with us during the tunnel construction period and for contributing to the review.

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NZTA Media Release: 10 August 2012

Categories
Media Coverage

Penalties for refusal to obey new rubbish law

Proposed Solid Waste Bylaw

Penalties for refusal to obey new rubbish law By Wayne Thompson People who refuse to comply with Auckland’s recycling and anti-litter code will risk being denied a civic kerbside collection or being fined under changes to waste management bylaws.

A requirement to separate green waste from other household rubbish put out for collection is proposed in the regional draft bylaw, which will be open for public comment this month.

It joins provisions in some areas’ bylaws that require separation of refuse and recyclable material into containers.

People who try to save money under the user-pays’ refuse collection by using neighbours’ bins without their permission could also face fines for illegal dumping.

The bylaw will replace all existing regulations for waste in the region and is to come into force on November 1.

The three-bin system for separating organics, recyclables and refuse is three years away.

Collection operators will also be made to keep waste streams separate, or breach the terms of their licence agreements with Auckland Council, which has resolved to cut the amount of the region’s waste going to landfill by 30 per cent by 2018.

Council solid waste manager Warwick Jaine said the bylaw change was aimed at “gross behaviour”, rather than mistakes by a householder.

“If people are contaminating and causing problems down the waste processing stream we will have a series of progressive penalties that can apply with fines under the Litter Act.

“But the emphasis is on education – we are not going in with a heavy stick about paper going in the wrong bin.”

Mr Jaine said the bylaw would come with a new schedule of infringement fees, ranging from $100 to $400 for every subsequent offence within a year.

Discretion would be used in enforcing the bylaw.

The region had 165,000 individual containers collected daily, making it hard to see every offence, although more litter wardens would be about.

They would look for a continual trend of more than half a bin of contaminating material and especially people putting in full oil bottles which could to soil rubbish, streets and compacting machinery.

If a householder refused to separate the waste into three waste containers for collection from the kerbside, they would have to organise for it to be collected from their property by a private contractor.

They would not be allowed to put it out for the kerbside collection.

Mr Jaine said the council had a range of ways to identify sources of contamination.

They included having people walk ahead of collection trucks, opening up lids and leaving stickers to educate householders about what they should do.

Credits

Written by: Wayne Thompson | Email Wayne
Photo by: APN
Published by: NZ Herald August 10 2012

Categories
Media Coverage

Wellington St on-ramp to open

Wellington St on-ramp to openNEED FOR SPEED: The Wellington St on-ramp on the left has been closed to motorists since May 2011.

The Wellington St motorway on-ramp will re-open following pressure from hundreds of inner city residents.

The road has been closed to traffic since May last year when it was rebuilt as part of the Victoria Park Tunnel project.

A three-month study has found it should be re-opened, which the New Zealand Transport Agency said will happened in about six weeks once ramp signals and pavement work are completed.

NZTA’s decision followed a detailed investigation of the potential effects on Auckland’s transport network from re-opening the on-ramp or keeping it closed.

The assessment, NZTA said, indicated there was capacity for vehicles to use Wellington St without affecting the performance of the motorway in central Auckland, except for a period in the afternoon peak.

The decision also followed a strong campaign by the Herne Bay Residents’ Association who said their streets were being overrun by the 8000-odd cars trying to access the motorway daily.

More than 700 submissions were made from the public over the on-ramp and 72 per cent wanted it re-opened.

“This is a strong response reflecting a high level of community interest in the future of the Wellington Street on-ramp,” NZTA’s acting State Highways Manager for Auckland and Northland, Steve Mutton said.

NZTA is to discuss the re-opening of the on-ramp with local residents in the next few weeks.

Ramp signals will again be used to control traffic at the on-ramp.

“Previously between seven and eight thousand vehicles used the on-ramp every day. The critical time is the weekday afternoon peak. The Vic Park tunnel improvements mean traffic is moving more quickly and ramp signalling will help ensure the motorway operates efficiently and safely for all drivers,” Mutton said.

He said the investigation findings warn Auckland’s growth and development will have an impact on the performance of the city’s motorways in the future.

“While there is room now on the motorway network to re-open Wellington Street, capacity is expected to reduce over time as the network has to accommodate more and more vehicles. The NZTA and Auckland Transport will be working together to monitor and manage the performance of the motorways and local roads, including the Wellington Street on-ramp,”

NZTA said feedback from other submitters had included that there was less congestion and delays on the motorway, improved traffic flows on local roads near Wellington St and improved safety around local schools as well as for merging traffic on the motorway.

Negative effects identified included delays to travel times, driver and resident frustration, “rat-running” through local streets, more heavy vehicles using local roads and an increased risk to safety locally due to drivers running red lights, making u-turns and driving too fast.

Credits

Photo/s by: PETER ELEY/Fairfax NZ
Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times