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Auckland Unitary Plan Current Issues Media Coverage

Council approach ‘haphazard’

Rethink the plan or rethink the council.

This was the unanimous message from 500 Aucklanders gathered at Takapuna Grammar School last night to discuss Auckland Council’s intensification plans.

The meeting was organised by resident-led group Auckland 2040 whose goal is to encourage 50,000 people to give feedback to the council on what they believe is a “haphazard, scatter-gun” approach to intensification.

Founders Richard Burton, a resource management consultant, and Guy Haddleton

argued that, contrary to what the council is claiming, 56 per cent of the residential area in Auckland will be zoned to allow apartments.

Following a city-wide resident revolt over the last fortnight Mayor Len Brown has already announced that four areas of the plan would be revised.

But those present at the meeting were unanimous in calling for the entire plan to be revisited and looked at from the “ground up”.

This would include investigating what areas are appropriate for intensification in terms of infrastructure and character.

“We have got to keep holding the mayor’s feet to the fire,” said Mr Haddleton.

“We need to slow this process down until we get it right.”

The lone voice in support of the plan, councillor Ann Hartley, was shut down by angry residents who booed her claims that council is willing and ready to listen to public feedback.

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Auckland Unitary Plan Current Issues Media Coverage

Call for plan rethink

A campaign to get 50,000 Aucklanders to tell the council to rethink its intensification plans is underway.

The coalition behind the campaign, Auckland 2040, is concerned that without a united voice residents will lose the chance to have a say on the future of their city.

The council has set a May 31 deadline for community feedback to the draft Unitary Plan, which proposes intensification through rezoning much of the city for apartment and terraced housing.

Richard Burton, a Resource Management Act consultant with 30 years experience, says the first concern is that most people are still unaware how the Unitary Plan will affect properties and neighbourhoods.

“This is the most fundamental decision Auckland will make in the next 100 years,” he says. “Apathy is our enemy and there’s a real sense of urgency. In council’s eyes not putting in feedback is tantamount to agreeing with the plan.”

Mr Burton also says he’s horrified by aspects of the plan that the council is not making clear to the public.

“People are already concerned about the height limits without even realising that the council will have the ability to allow increased height without public notification. Developers will do whatever they can to persuade the council to allow them extra height and other dispensations and I say council because residents will have no say.”

Another major concern, he says, is the lack of investigation the council has undertaken on the impact of intensification on roading, schools, sewerage, hospitals, and reserves.

Guy Haddleton, who along with Mr. Burton is driving the Auckland 2040 campaign, says community-run meetings have been a real eye-opener.

“People are not against an intensification plan for Auckland,” Mr. Haddleton says. “What they’re saying is that council needs to rethink the plan and identify appropriate locations for intensification based on infrastructure and community feedback.”

Auckland 2040 will be holding public meetings where people can submit their feedback on the plan to council.

■ May 19, 4.30pm, Takapuna Grammar School

■ May 26, 5 pm, Northcote Senior Citizens Hall.

Visit auckland2040.org.nz for more information.

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Auckland Unitary Plan Current Issues Media Coverage

High-rise plans horrify

George Gardner was shaking with disbelief when he found out apartment blocks up to six storeys are being proposed for his suburban Browns Bay neighbourhood.

He is so concerned about the effect on his suburb he printed out his own leaflets and dropped them at 45 houses in the area around Stapleford Cres.

Auckland Council’s draft unitary plan proposes zoning the area around Sherwood Reserve for apartments and terraced housing, encouraging developments between four and six storeys.

Since then Mr Gardner has had neighbours phoning him up almost in tears, he says.

“They thought like I did, that all the apartments were going to be near the businesses in Browns Bay not in the residential streets,” he says.

“People had no idea and they’re really concerned about what it will do to their land value, their views and about increases in traffic and pressure on infrastructure.”

Mr Gardner says Auckland Council should be giving the plans more publicity.

“When I was walking my dog the other day I stopped 25 people Sherwood Reserve and Freyberg Park and asked them about the unitary plan and 23 of them didn’t know how the new zoning would affect them.

“The council is just relying on us not looking to get it through,” he says.

MEETING TO GO AHEAD

Meeting Anger at 24.5 metre building heights proposed for Browns Bay town centre has prompted residents to organise a meeting tonight.

Residents thought they could relax when the Environment Court set 12.5m maximum height limits in 2003, former Browns Bay Beachfront Action Committee chairman Kurt Marquart says.

Mr Marquart is among residents keen to raise awareness about the draft unitary plan provisions.

Shading in Browns Bay streets would be a major issue with cafe visitors missing out on the sun, he says.

Existing building like the 15m Bacchus in Bute Rd would pale in comparison to the heights proposed, Mr Marquart says.

He says it’s vital residents get up to speed and have their say before submissions to the draft unitary plan close on May 31. The meeting is in Browns Bay School at 8pm tonight.

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194 Hinemoa Street Current Issues Media Coverage

Concerns over boarding house project

Questions are being asked over a three-storey, 45-room boarding house development in a commercial Birkenhead zone, including whether it was scrutinised enough by Auckland Council.

The council says public input was not needed as the effects of the building on the area were deemed minor.

Rooms in the 194 Hinemoa St development range in size between 14 square metres and 22sqm with only 13 car parks for residents and staff.

North Shore’s district plan says a minimum of one car park to three residents is required.

This means the boarding house will have a three-park shortfall but a traffic engineer deemed it would not have significant impact.

Birkenhead Residents Association chairwoman Gillian Taylor says many are “horrified at what’s happened”.

She says there are concerns for the wellbeing of boarding house residents planning to live in the “small” rooms.

The association is not sure who will be living there.

Parking is already limited for residents, Ms Taylor says.

The association is not opposed to commercial development, she says, but it questions the validity of a boarding house not going through a public feedback process.

Council northern resource consent manager Julie Bevan says the land’s zoning was not the reason why it was able to sidestep public feedback.

The council investigated the effects on the wider environment, Ms Bevan says.

It was decided they “were not more than minor and therefore concluded that full public notification was not required on this occasion”.

The council says the project won’t adversely affect neighbours of the boarding house.

Ms Taylor says residents are now unsure of their options. Delaying the project until it is fully investigated would be ideal, she says.

PROJECT HISTORY

The plans for the boarding house were passed on for approval by one of the North Shore’s most outspoken opponents of intensification.

Vivienne Keohane did not request Auckland Council to publicly notify it.

“I don’t think so because at that stage it didn’t seem out of character for where it was going to be,” Mrs Keohane says.

The “only fault” Mrs Keohane says she could find with the boarding house was parking.

The 194 Hinemoa St boarding home falls three short of the 16 parks required under current council regulations.

Chairwoman Lindsay Waugh says the development report never came back to the board.

Mrs Waugh says she was away on council duties when Mrs Keohane received the report and asked her to consult the Birkenhead Business Association.

But Mrs Keohane says Mrs Waugh didn’t put forward her concerns.

Both “agreed there’s no point” as officers decide if the project goes ahead anyway, Mrs Keohane says.

Mr Whitehead the proposed Unitary Plan there would be no responsibility for developments, such as the boarding house, to be of a high standard.

The questionable process by which the Hinemoa development was approved should be investigated, Mr Whitehead says.

Credits

Written by Jess Etheridge
Photo by: Warwick Jones
Published: Auckland Now / North Shore Times

Categories
Current Issues Media Coverage Transport Issues

Car parks proposed Onewa Road – bound end of Lake Road

Short-term car parking will replace 300 metres of transit lane if a new proposal for Northcote’s Lake Rd goes ahead.

Auckland Transport is gauging the views of residents and schools at the Onewa Rd-bound end of Lake Rd on removing most of the T3 transit lane.

The council-controlled organisation says schools and residents have little short-term parking for dropoffs and pickups.

In its place, 10- minute parking would be allowed, with 100 metres of T3 transit lane connecting commuters to Onewa Rd remaining.

“Drivers are currently pursuing various routes to drop off children at local schools and being affected by and affecting commuter traffic, particularly in the morning peak,” a letter sent to affected residents says.

Consultation ends on April 26.

Credits

Written by: Jess Etheridge
Published: Auckland Now / North Shore Times – 16 April 2013

Categories
Current Issues Media Coverage

Tree protection rules axed in rethink by Auckland Council

Auckland Council has announced that blanket tree protection rules have been axed in Rodney, on the North Shore and the old Auckland City Council area except the CBD.

Penny Pirrit, regional and local planning manager, said the changes were made as a result of the Government’s proposed Resource Management Act amendments, Environment Court proceedings and the upcoming Unitary Plan.

“Auckland Council has revised the extent of the general tree protection rules … meaning council consent may no longer be required to cut or prune trees,” she said, referring to the three areas.

That followed the success of a Property Council challenge, due to reach the Environment Court yesterday but shelved just before Christmas when an agreement was reached between the parties.

On December 21, the Property Council said it would not proceed with a tree protection court challenge as long as the council agreed to revoke blanket tree protection – and tell everyone about that “as soon as it is reasonably able”.

Eighteen days elapsed between the council signing the agreement and Penny Pirrit issuing a statement a fortnight ago.

In that hiatus, Herald readers complained of what they said was an extremely confusing situation.

Reader Jeff Hawkins wanted a copy of the memorandum of understanding over the Environment Court hearing, reported in the Herald on December 22, saying he had a large gum tree on his property.

Reader John Griffin, who has a big rimu, said he had also tried to understand the situation. He had contacted about 15 people in various organisations including the council and the Justice Department but was upset that he could not get any information other than being told to seek help from a council aborist.

“We almost have to chop before we get clarification and it seems the council is intentionally obfuscating around the issue because they’re trying to perpetuate the previous situation,” Griffin said.

“I don’t think they’re acting in a manner that they should be, given they should be representing the ratepayer.”

Penny Pirrit said some trees remained protected but this was more site-specific and she still encouraged people to check with the council. Some trees are scheduled, listed as specifically protected and these cannot be chopped down. Neither can some near streams or the coast.

“The latest changes to the rules will mean that some residents who have resource consent applications pending will no longer need a consent to remove or prune the trees.”

Letters will be sent, advising them they can chop without council approval, she said.

Tree rules are unchanged in Auckland CBD, the Hauraki Gulf islands and former Waitakere, Manukau, Franklin and Papakura council areas, she said.

The Governments’ proposed RMA changes would “further restrict all councils’ ability to protect urban trees and would revoke most, if not all, the general protection rules across Auckland”.

The Tree Council has for years sought to protect trees. It urges people to join its ranks, saying Auckland’s trees are in danger, and encourages people to “give trees a voice”.

Its Facebook page showed a pohutukawa by a garage chopped to the roofline, its multi-stemmed trunk still standing, which angered the Tree Council.

“Would have been better at ground level than to leave a magnificent pohutukawa in this state,” it said.

“This is happening all around Auckland since January 1 this year when general tree protection was removed in certain residential zones. This is in Reihana St, Orakei, where houses reach well over $1 million.

“When will people become educated enough to realise that trees enhance neighbourhoods and all high-end market areas are well treed, for example, Remuera and Epsom?”

People accused of ‘butchering’ trees

Tree Council members are disillusioned and upset after Auckland blanket protection rules were scrapped last month.

Treasurer, membership secretary and community tree adviser Sherylle Scott said the changes were frustrating.

“It’s a major battle. We’re wearing a bit thin,” Scott said.

Low attendance at education courses is just one sign of widespread disinterest in the issue, she said.

“We’ve tried to educate people but we hardly get anyone to our courses. I’ve done them for four or five years and we were down to seven people last year,” she said.

She was reacting to Auckland Council signing an agreement with the Property Council to revoke protection of unscheduled trees on the North Shore, Rodney and on the isthmus, in return for not proceeding with an Environment Court challenge yesterday. The two organisations signed that agreement on December 21, axing Auckland’s blanket tree protection rules.

Hueline Massey, Tree Council field officer, said she did not know of the blanket protection abolition and understood the rule change would come into effect later.

She is upset about what she called “open slather” on trees.

“We’re horrified. People are butchering trees and that’s really upsetting because those trees have been there for generations, but we can’t object because it’s legal.

“We find it disturbing – people’s attitudes to things that have been there for a lot longer than they have been alive, particularly if they’re moving into a new property and particularly removing scheduled trees,” she said.

Tree Council membership is $20, or $15 for elderly people or those on a benefit, and members had sympathy for people suffering with a tree on their property, Massey said.

“But everyone’s negative effect is different.

“Some will say the tree is heaving the footpath but that was probably made of unreinforced concrete and that’s often the case with old driveways.”

Leaf litter issues could be solved with gutter barriers and sunlight issues with branch thinning so problems were not insurmountable.

Only about 700 people made submissions to 2009 changes to the Resource Management Act, indicating widespread disinterest in tree protection issues, Scott said.

Credits

Written by Anne Gibson
Photo by: Steven McNicholl
Published: The New Zealand Herald – 22 January 2013

Categories
Auckland Unitary Plan Current Issues

The Auckland Unitary Plan

Auckland Council is developing New Zealand’s biggest single resource management plan, known as the Auckland Unitary Plan. A bold and transformational plan, it will become the council’s key tool to manage development on land and water. It will have a direct impact on the shape of the city and the quality of Auckland’s built and natural environment.

Providing consistency and simplified rules, it will replace the existing district and regional plans and policies of the former councils. The Auckland Unitary Plan will be the principal regulatory tool to implement the The Auckland Plan, the council’s overriding 30 year strategy to turn Auckland into the world’s most liveable city.

As part of an enhanced public engagement programme, a political working party and council officers will produce a discussion draft to release to the public for informal feedback from March to June 2013. After incorporating feedback, a proposed Unitary Plan will go to the council in September 2013 for a decision on notification and formal public consultation. Between now and then there will be opportunities for key stakeholders and Local Boards and their communities to become involved in the development of the discussion draft.

For more detailed information on the Auckland Unitary Plan go to the Character Coalition web site

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.

Credits

Written by: JESS ETHERIDGE
Published: 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

Credits

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