‘Gross’ wall causes ruckus

Legal action is being taken over a three-metre-high retaining wall.

Birkenhead Pt residents are seeking a judicial review of the Auckland Council-approved resource consent at the High Court.

Residents are adamant the wall is the only issue with the 83 Palmerston Rd development.

David Rawlings, who lives directly opposite the property, says he is disgusted it has been allowed to go ahead.

The first three hours of sunlight on to his property will be blocked by it.

It is as tall as Mr Rawlings’ two-storey house because it is being built on a one-metre-high slope, elevating it to four metres.

A handrail will be built on top of it.

“It’s very ‘in-your-face’.”

Planned conciliation meetings between residents and the consent holder have not occurred, Mr Rawlings says.

Mr Rawlings says it is a failure on council’s part to not see out the due process.

“Council is behaving regardless of the intention of their district plan.”

Birkenhead Pt is a zone 3 heritage area.

Many residents believe the wall goes against in keeping with Birkenhead’s heritage.

The Birkenhead Residents Association is also opposed.

Environmental affects from the wall were deemed “less than minor” in the consent report.

Mr Rawlings says the report also said the impact on him was minor.

He feels council has told him to “stuff off”.

“It’s a big, bad world out there and we might be stuck with it.

“It’s just gross, it’s bloody gross.”

A council spokesperson says land use consent, which authorises the construction of the retaining wall, was granted May 8.

“This consent was processed on a non-notified basis following a consideration of the district plan and affected parties”.

“While that application is before the court, it is not appropriate that we make any further comment.”

Consent holder Manu Withers did not return requests for comment by deadline.

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Written by: Jess Etherridge
Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times – 30 December 2013

WAYNE BRITTENDEN’S COUNTERPOINT: AUCKLAND HERITAGE

from Sunday Morning on Sunday 14 October 2012
In the light of Auckland’s Heritage Festival, Wayne takes a critical look at the reality of heritage, Auckland style. Chris subsequently speaks with Waitemata and Gulf councillor Mike Lee, and Brisbane conservation architect Peter Marquis-Kyle.

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Radio New Zealand National – 14 October 2012

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

Heritage fears rising

KEEPING CHARACTER: Eleven commercial buildings on Victoria Rd have had their heritage status downgraded by the Auckland Council.

More than 100 North Shore buildings have lost their heritage protection leaving them open for development, Kaipatiki Local Board member Grant Gillon says.

Mr Gillon says recent changes to the district plan heritage schedule leave him suspicious that the Auckland Council is making way for development.

“I see plans coming out advocating intensification and then these heritage changes happen in areas that are considered city fringe,” he says.

“When protection is removed it leaves these areas vulnerable and it’s like we’re one step closer to development.”

The council says the removal of almost 100 houses and downgrading of 35 buildings will not affect their level of protection because they are in areas that already have heritage zoning.

Devonport, Birkenhead Pt and Northcote Pt are all zoned residential 3 with tight controls over demolition and renovations.

But Mr Gillon says the council is doing a major zoning overhaul later this year and these areas are not guaranteed to keep their character zoning.

“I don’t think there’s a lot of confidence they will be protected,” he says.

Claudia Paige of Devonport Heritage agrees.

She is most concerned about the change of status from heritage A to B for a row of commercial buildings on Victoria Rd which removes the need to notify the public of any alterations.

This means it will be in the council’s hands to allow alterations, which Ms Paige says is very worrying.

“The council has a had a pretty poor record of dealing with discretionary matters,” she says.

Ms Paige says three category B heritage houses in Rata Rd, Devonport, have been either demolished or substantially renovated after the council used its discretionary power to give the green light on changes.

She is happy with the new additions to the heritage list, including local sports clubs but says the changes could have waited until after the unitary plan is drafted.

“It’s a bit presumptuous and too soon when we have the zoning revisit in the pipeline.”

Click here for more on Proposed Plan Change 38

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Written by: MARNIE HALLAHAN
Photo/s by:GRAHAME COX
Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times

Heritage matters

Heritage MattersBritomart Transport Centre in central Auckland

Auckland Council’s Regional Development and Operations Committee (RDOC) has agreed unanimously on a raft of recommendations to strengthen the focus on built heritage through the planning process.

“There is still a lot of work to be done in this area,” says RDOC Chair Ann Hartley. “We need to be clear what is going to be notified and what is not, under the forthcoming Unitary Plan. We also need to extend the protection for historic homes and buildings throughout the Auckland region, not just those in the inner city suburbs which are in Residential 1 and 2 zones.”

Councillor Hartley thanked council staff for their professional approach in dealing with heritage and character matters, and said that there was also an improved attitude among developers. She noted the ongoing interest of local boards in heritage matters and their collaboration with staff and councillors through the development of the Unitary Plan, and acknowledged the long history of the issue of built heritage, noting that the protections that exist today are the result of many years of hard work by previous councillors.

Councillor Hartley said the Britomart Precinct is a great example of where Auckland’s heritage was protected and enhanced. She said that, prior to 2005, the demolition of buildings in many of Auckland’s older suburbs was automatically permitted.

The committee heard expert evidence on where “special circumstances” provision in the RMA could enable notification of resource consent applications for the demolition or significant modification of pre-1940s houses in inner city suburbs (Residential 1 and 2 zones).

Committee members agreed that it would be useful to provide guidelines on when “special circumstances” might apply to such applications.
“In recent months there have been three cases in which the council considered there were special circumstances warranting notification and this test is routinely applied to all resource consent applications,” says Councillor Hartley.

The council’s Heritage Advisory Panel has recommended against making changes to the District Plan itself to allow notification of such applications, as this would be too time-consuming and costly.

Mayor Len Brown says he is looking forward to the drafting of Unitary Plan rules, where the community would have the opportunity to discuss these issues.

“The council has agreed that the best outcome is to ensure that there are clear rules in the upcoming Unitary Plan to ensure that heritage and historic character buildings are dealt with in a way that meets the expectations of the wider community,” says Len, the mayor.

Auckland Council is currently reviewing all land use and regional controls. Its recommendations, which will form a new Unitary Plan for the whole of the Auckland region, will be open for public review in March next year.

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Source: Auckland Council Heritage Matters

Council votes to step up focus on heritage matters

Auckland Council’s Regional Development and Operations Committee (RDOC) has agreed unanimously on a raft of recommendations to strengthen the focus on built heritage through the planning process.

The committee met today to discuss the issue of built heritage.

“There is still a lot of work to be done in this area,” said RDOC Chair Ann Hartley.

“We need to be clear what is going to be notified and what is not, under the forthcoming Unitary Plan. We also need to extend the protection for historic homes and buildings throughout the Auckland region, not just those in the inner city suburbs which are in Residential 1 and 2 zones.”

Cr Hartley thanked council staff for their professional approach in dealing with heritage and character matters, and said that there was also an improved attitude among developers.

She noted the ongoing interest of local boards in heritage matters and their collaboration with staff and councillors through the development of the Unitary Plan, and acknowledged the long history of the issue of built heritage, noting that the protections that exist today are the result of many years of hard work by previous councillors.

Cr Hartley said the Britomart Precinct is a great example of where Auckland’s heritage was protected and enhanced, and said that prior to 2005 the demolition of buildings in many of Auckland’s older suburbs was automatically permitted.

The committee heard expert evidence on where “special circumstances” provision in the RMA could enable notification of resource consent applications for the demolition or significant modification of pre-1940s houses in inner city suburbs (Residential 1 and 2 zones).

Committee members agreed that it would be useful to provide guidelines on when “special circumstances” might apply to such applications.

“In recent months there have been three cases in which Council considered there were special circumstances warranting notification and this test is routinely applied to all resource consent applications,” said Cr Hartley.

The council’s Heritage Advisory Panel has recommended against making changes to the District Plan itself to allow notification of such applications, as this would be too time-consuming and costly.

The Mayor says he is looking forward to the drafting of Unitary Plan rules, where the community would have the opportunity to discuss these issues.

“Council has agreed that the best outcome is to ensure that there are clear rules in the upcoming Unitary Plan to ensure that heritage and historic character buildings are dealt with in a way that meets the expectations of the wider community,” says Len Brown.

Auckland Council is currently reviewing all land use and regional controls. Its recommendations, which will form a new Unitary Plan for the whole of the Auckland region, will be open for public review in March next year.

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Source: Auckland Council Media release

Lowdown on high-rise

Opposition to high-rise development in Northcote and Birkenhead rang out loud and clear at a public meeting called in response to a leaked council document.

Anxiety was evident as residents put their questions to Auckland Council chief planning officer Roger Blakeley who fronted the meeting organised by the Kaipatiki Local Board on January 26.

Highbury, Birkenhead and Northcote, including heritage areas, are among 14 sample neighbourhoods a council report suggested are suitable for intensive housing.

Auckland’s population is expected to increase by one million over the next 30 years and the council wants 75 percent of all new dwellings built in the next 30 years within existing suburbs to limit urban sprawl into rural areas.

Around 70 people attended the meeting including councillors George Wood and Ann Hartley and Hibiscus and Bays Local Board chairwoman Julia Parfitt.

Mr Blakeley stressed that the report offered different scenarios.

It was not a proposal, he says.

It’s important to keep all options open until councillors decide how best to cater for growth, he says.

Kaipatiki Local Board member Grant Gillon says the report seemed to offer proposals rather than scenarios.

He’s often seen scenarios turn into propositions, he says.

Birkenhead resident Malcolm Hall questioned why housing couldn’t go out and not up.

Mr Blakeley says the council opted for quality condensed housing.

“There are some bad examples in Auckland but we don’t want that.”

Mr Blakeley says there are three main reasons people want compact living.

Economically speaking greater density means better productivity, he says.

If the city is built out then there will be more infrastructure costs.

And it’s for lifestyle reasons, he says.

“One of the values people cherish about Auckland is its proximity to the coast and that they don’t have to drive kilometres and kilometres before they get to country living.”

Kaipatiki Local Board chairwoman Lindsay Waugh says there was good local interest at the meeting and some healthy debate.

Intensification will always cause concern but we have to look at other options to endless sprawl, she says.

“It has to come at some level.”

How, when and where is the debate, she says.

Renters face squeeze as Shore rents rise P3

– © Fairfax NZ News

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Written by: LISA HONEYBONE
Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times

It’s high-rise horror

NO WAY: Community opposition would stop high rise apartments replacing heritage houses, Kaipatiki Local Board chairwoman Lindsay Waugh and deputy chairman Nick Kearney say.NO WAY: Community opposition would stop high rise apartments replacing heritage houses, Kaipatiki Local Board chairwoman Lindsay Waugh and deputy chairman Nick Kearney say.

High rise across Auckland is being touted as a way to solve the region’s housing crisis but massive opposition is expected.

Browns Bay, Highbury, Birkenhead and Northcote, including heritage areas, are among areas said to be ripe for controversial 13 to 25-metre high apartment blocks.

Publicised court battles against high rise have been fought in each suburb and residents are already fighting a 12-storey development at Milford mall.

Takapuna and Albany, which already have numerous apartments, were last year identified by the council as playing a key role in accommodating population growth.

Auckland Council wants two-thirds of all new dwellings built in the next 30 years within existing suburbs to limit urban sprawl into rural areas.

The council’s draft Auckland Plan says 300,000 new dwellings are needed over the next 30 years.

But a new report commissioned by the council states existing zonings only allows for 45,000 to 60,000.

Substantial zone changes to allow intensive housing in the entire Auckland urban area, including coastal sectors, would be needed to reach anywhere near 300,000, the report says.

Massive opposition from residents and politicians could be expected, the report authors consultants Studio D4 and Jaxmax say.

The report suggests 14 neighbourhoods that it believes are suitable for intensive housing.

Shore areas include Browns Bay, Birkenhead/Highbury and a small part of Unsworth Heights.

Apartments of up to 25 metres are suggested for town centres and other suitable urban areas could be rezoned up to 13 metres, the report says.

“Big opportunities” for apartments also exist at Northcote Pt and Birkenhead Pt near ferry services and coastal Browns Bay town centre sites, it says.

Hibiscus-Bays Local Board chairwoman Julia Parfitt says many people will find the Browns Bay proposals alone “quite alarming”.

Doubling the height rules near the Browns Beach beachfront reserve would allow a 25-metre building to shade one of Auckland’s busiest parks, Mrs Parfitt says.

She doesn’t oppose high-rise development but says it’s essential it’s of a quality design and that infrastructure can cope.

Kaipatiki Local Board chairwoman Lindsay Waugh says it would be horrific if high-rise apartments went into North Shore’s heritage areas.

Mrs Waugh says it’s important there is debate nationally about population growth and how to accommodate it.

She doesn’t favour further urban sprawl.

Kaipatiki deputy chairman Nick Kearney says the report will go down “like a bucket of cold sick” in Birkenhead.

Concerns would include existing congestion at Onewa Rd which wouldn’t cope with a large influx in population, he says.

Mr Kearney supports more development outside urban limits.

Shore councillor Ann Hartley says the report is “theoretical” and large-scale intensive housing would not go ahead in heritage areas.

She says the council is getting more information about how to deal with growth and whether accommodating 70 percent within urban limits will work.

The council doesn’t want to see the haphazard infill housing development that happened in the past repeated, she says.

North Shore councillor George Wood says a major rethink on intensification proposals is needed.

Intensive development would have a big impact on the village atmosphere of traditional town centres like Birkenhead, Browns Bay and Milford, he says.

Howick councillor Dick Quax says he was stunned when he saw “hardly an old house left standing” in Birkenhead on maps in the report.

The impact on views, heritage, trees and Onewa Rd congestion would be enormous, he says.

“I’m not against intensification but the community needs to agree it’s a good thing for the area and it must be good quality.”

Barfoot & Thompson managing director Peter Thompson says Aucklanders still like quarter acre sections which are becoming more scarce and apartments are becoming more popular.

But he says you won’t see Surfers Paradise style development in Auckland.

Mr Thompson says well-designed apartments with a limited number of floors are in demand.

– © Fairfax NZ News

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

Demolition man sick of historic destruction

DEMOLITION MAN: Mike Vickers says the near demolition of this heritage home on Arawa Ave in Devonport is part of a growing trend.

Mike Vickers is sick of tearing down beautiful North Shore heritage homes.

The North Shore Demolition boss says heritage zones in Devonport, Northcote Pt and Birkenhead are being gutted as developers exploit resource consent loopholes.

He fears a flood of historic Shore houses may soon be destroyed or altered beyond recognition.

“There are going to be no heritage areas left if this keeps up,” hesays.

“We’re losing our history on a speedy basis.

“Some of these jobs I feel like walking away from, but then if I do there is always someone else willing to do it.

“It shouldn’t be allowed to happen, end of story.”

Rules protecting the North Shore’s heritage homes aren’t stringent enough, says Mr Vickers.

He often sees resource consents granted for alterations to historic houses which are then almost completely demolished.

In other cases developers simply tear down a heritage home, pay a fine, then redevelop the property, he says.

“It’s all about money. It’s another land grab. A piece of vacant land in some of these areas is worth $2 million or $3m.

“It’s easier to start from scratch than to renovate an old bungalow.

“Quite often you can put two houses on these sections.”

Heritage homes were recently demolished or partially demolished in Birkenhead and Devonport.

One home on Arawa St, next to Cheltenham Beach, was almost torn down after its owners were given consent to restore and rennovate it.

Residents and councillors have called for an investigation.

Birkenhead residents are angry over a house recently removed from Mariposa St, near Highbury.

Consent for 90 percent removal of the historic bungalow was granted in 2005, and that was changed to a total removal consent in 2006.

The consent was non-notified and carried out by council officers.

Harbour ward councillor Tony Holman says North Shore heritage homes are disappearing at an alarming rate.

He is taking measures to toughen up rules protecting heritage zones and delegate more decisions on heritage areas to councillors.

It’s also important the council employs more hard-to-find heritage specialists, he says.

“Our special character areas are being eroded. We’re losing a huge visual and economic resource.

“People with lots of money come to a heritage area, saying they love the ambience. They buy a heritage house and then say: ‘Nevermind, I want a modern one’.”

Birkenhead Residents Association member Carol Scott is calling for strict protections to preserve Birkenhead’s character.

Many consents have been given for rennovations that gut important historic buildings, she says.

“Time and time again, you just get to the point where you feel like saying: ‘Are we going to bother to protect heritage or not?’

“This is a finite resource. They aren’t making it any more.

“It is not only an aesthetic and historical good, but in this day and age it’s a financial good.”

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Photo/s by: BEN WATSON/North Shore Times
Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times