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.

Credits

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.

Credits

Source: Auckland Council Media release

Out of step over fitness gear in park

CLOSED EARS: Little Shoal Bay Protection Society chairman Tony Holman says the Kaipatiki Local Board shouldn't ignore residents' views over the installation of adult fitness equipment.The Kaipatiki Local Board is ignoring the community by installing adult exercise equipment in Little Shoal Bay Reserve according to the Little Shoal Bay Protection Society.

Society chairman Tony Holman says a strong response from the community shows that many people do not want the equipment in the reserve, especially on the site proposed.

There are many reasons for the opposition, he says – mainly the high cost at around $80,000, unsightly structures and taking up green space.

Mr Holman says there has now been three consultations with the community.

The first, the board’s promotion of the project, showed around 35 per cent were opposed, he says.

The society also surveyed the same area which showed 90 per cent were totally against it.

“The board ignored this information, and the society’s submissions, resolving to proceed as planned,” he says.

The society then carried out a wider survey across much of Birkenhead Point and Northcote Point which showed 80 per cent totally against the proposal and an additional 5 per cent against the proposed site.

Mr Holman says board chairwoman Lindsay Waugh wrongly stated that the society was advised of the initiative more than two years ago and chose not to respond to the board.

It only learnt of the proposal secondhand, he says.

“We find it reprehensible that Ms Waugh is refusing to correct her statement in any meaningful way to the people she has misled.”

Ms Waugh says the board minutes are verified and are the official record of events.

“The recent survey was to canvas community views on the preferred location for the equipment and the board voted in support of the majority view and recommendation as recorded in our minutes.”

Ms Waugh says the project dates back to a 2010 Birkenhead-Northcote Community Board decision.

On June 14 last year the Kaipatiki Local Board then allocated $80,000 to facilitate the project subject to consultation with the community.

“It has been through several stages of the democratic process,” she says.

Auckland Council’s treatment of Kaipatiki area “reprehensible” P5

Credits

Written by: LISA HONEYBONE
Photo/s by: PETER ELEY
Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times

Board wants action on projects

Grant Gillon says he wonders what Kaipatiki has done to Auckland Council and Auckland Transport to have them treat the community in such an off-hand and reprehensible manner.

The Kaipatiki Local Board member says shortly after learning that the council had chosen to adopt the board’s austerity budget, which would push out key projects, he was informed that Auckland Transport has decided to delay the Highbury Town Centre upgrade, the Glenfield upgrade and the Beach Haven ferry project.

Mr Gillon says the Highbury Town Centre and Glenfield upgrades have been pushed out past the 10 years and the Beach Haven ferry project has been reforecast to start in 2016/17.

“This action is not only appalling, done without consultation with the board but detrimental to the economic and social well-being of the local community,” he says.

Mr Gillon says many hours were spent consulting with the local community over the Highbury Town Centre.

“We were starting to firm up proposals when we have been hit with this decision,” he says.

Mr Gillon says it is a similar story with the Beach Haven ferry project.

“It is an issue that has been hot for local residents as promise after promise has been broken,” he says.

Chairwoman Lindsay Waugh says the board is “absolutely committed” to the ferry project and is very conscious that community expectations have been raised and dashed time and time again since the mid-1970s.

“We are determined that this project gets reinstated and will be making every effort to get this decision reversed before the governing body meets on June 28 to sign off the Long-Term Plan,” she says.

First, the governing body did not approve the additional funds of $3.3 million the board requested to balance its 10-year budget.

Despite having 88,000 residents and ranking sixth in population the board receives the least amount of funding on a per head basis.

Mr Gillon says the budgetary blow must place Kaipatiki not only behind all the other local boards but the effects on the community will be devastating for years to come. The delay has been done to free up $10 million for discretionary allocations to boards rather than project management, he says.

– © Fairfax NZ News

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

Local body reforms ‘will stifle democracy’

GRANT ROBERTSON: The Government was removing democracy at a local level across New Zealand.

The Government’s local body reforms will take away the rights of residents to have a say in the way their councils operate and force amalgamations, Labour claims.

The controversial Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill scraped through its first reading in Parliament last night by just 61 votes to 59 with the support of the Government’s partners ACT and United Future.

The legislation will make it easier for local councils to merge and limits the areas they can operate in.

Labour’s deputy leader Grant Robertson said the Government was removing democracy at a local level across New Zealand.

It wanted to turn local councils into corporate-like boards, “rather than it being part of democracy, something that local people have a say in,” he told Parliament.

The Bill effectively said amalgamations were on the way.

“You will get them no matter what. Some amalgamations maybe a very good idea but local people deserve the right to a say.”

The Government had made a big deal about local councils’ spending being out of control, Robertson said.

“The Department of Internal Affairs says there is no clear quantitative evidence to suggest the Local Government Act 2002 has resulted a proliferation of new activities or that local government is undertaking a wider group of functions.”

It was a case of flower shows were in but V8 races were out, he said.

ACT leader John Banks said the former Labour government’s Local Government Act 2002 was a “failed experiment with the powers of general competence”.

It had led to rising expectations which councils could not meet and an increasingly expensive, ineffective and bureaucratic consultation processes which had resulted in rising rates and debt.

The Bill would remove councils’ “impossibly broad and meaningless” duty to enhance residents’ cultural, economic, environmental and social well being, he said.

“If passed, it will be a win for ratepayers.”

DAVID CARTER: “What we are trying to do is streamline the way councils can reorganise.”

Local Government Minister David Carter today said the Bill didn’t lessen democracy.

“What we are trying to do is streamline the way councils can reorganise, at the moment it is very, very difficult for amalgamations to occur,” he told Radio New Zealand.

Central government would not be forcing councils to merge.

Carter last night told Parliament the Bill was the first phase of the Government’s “Better Local Government” reforms which would force local authorities to operate more efficiently and effectively by doing “things that only they can do”.

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Written by: DANYA LEVY
Photo/s by: JONATHAN CAMERON/Taranaki Daily News and JOHN BISSET/Timaru Herald
Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times

High-rise plan revised

Highbury high-rise plans have been sent back to the drawing board.

A more integrated approach to planning the future of the town centre has followed a council decision on May 24 which was supported by the Kaipatiki Local Board.

Auckland Council regional development and operations committee agreed to withdraw the former North Shore City Council’s Highbury Plan Change which addressed building height limits within the business zone.

Committee chairwoman and local North Shore ward councillor Ann Hartley says the city’s planning framework had changed significantly since amalgamation and provided a more strategic and cost effective way forward.

“Highbury is a key part of our city and with better planning tools within our grasp, we won’t be dealing with height restrictions in isolation, she says.

“The aspirations identified in the approved Auckland Plan and the future Kaipatiki Area Plan will provide for an appropriate, informed variation to the Unitary Plan – the city’s resource management plan now under development.”

Mrs Hartley says the area planning process will result in a clearer view of Highbury’s future emerging next year and will identify what’s needed in the transport and related areas to unleash Highbury’s potential.

In February anxiety rang throughout the community as a leaked council document talked of Highbury, Birkenhead and Northcote, including heritage areas, being ripe for controversial highrise apartment blocks.

Around 70 people attended a public meeting organised by the Kaipatiki Local Board in response.

Local Board member Grant Gillon says the continued discussion focusing on the loss of heritage in these areas has renewed community concern.

“This highlights that there are two serious planning issues facing the community in Birkenhead: the push by planners for high-rise intensification in Birkenhead and the proposals to undermine our heritage areas,” he says.

Mr Gillon says he’s delighted that the board has listened to the community and rejected proceeding on the proposed plan change for Highbury.

The former North Shore City held many consultation evenings with the community over allowing higher buildings along Mokoia Rd and Birkenhead Ave, he says.

“The proposals under the former North Shore City would have had a negative impact on the local shopping centre and community,” he says.

But Mr Gillon says the plans to allow high-rise and intensivedevelopment in Birkenhead have not gone away, they have just shifted.

Officers advise that the proposals will be integrated with the Auckland Plan as part of a proposed Kaipatiki Local Board Area Plan development next year, he says.

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

Halt to Highbury Plan Change

A more integrated approach to planning the future of the Highbury Town Centre is proposed following a council decision this week (May 24), supported by the Kaipatiki Local Board.

Auckland Council’s regional development and operations committee considered the advice of its planners and agreed to withdraw the former North Shore City Council’s Highbury Plan Change which addressed building height limits within the business zone.

Committee chair and local North Shore ward councillor, Ann Hartley, says the city’s planning framework had changed significantly since amalgamation and provided a more strategic and cost effective way forward.

“Highbury is a key part of our city and with better planning tools within our grasp, we won’t be dealing with height restrictions in isolation,” she says.

“The aspirations identified in the approved Auckland Plan and the future Kaipatiki Area Plan will provide for an appropriate, informed variation to the Unitary Plan – the city’s resource management plan now under development.

“The area planning process will result in a clearer view of Highbury’s future emerging next year and will identify what’s needed in the transport and related areas to unleash Highbury’s potential.”

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Source: Scoop.co.nz

Kaipatiki board gutted at budget

The chair of the Kaipatiki Local Board has spoken out about the funding her board has been allocated from the Auckland Council’s Strategy and Finance meeting.

Last week Lindsay Waugh presented a cake to Mayor Len Brown and council that signified what she says is inequality between the funding allocated to the 21 Local Boards.

Ms Waugh said despite having 88,000 residents and ranking sixth in population, the Kaipaitiki Local Board on the North Shore receives the least amount of funding on a per capita basis.

Her board had requested an additional $3.3m over 10 years to cover the board’s 10-year budget, but the governing body did not approve that yesterday.

“I am very disappointed that our efforts to address the inequity in the Local Board budget allocation fell on deaf ears,” Ms Waugh says.

Despite detailed analysis of the budget shortfall apportioned to Kaipatiki, the alternative “Kaipatiki austerity” budget was adopted. She said this will force the board to defer key projects out to later years.

“Of particular regret is the need to defer the scheduled improvements for Northcote.

“We can accept that years of under investment levels for Kaipatiki is the starting point for the new Local Board budget but we cannot accept that this inequity will be entrenched for the next 10 years,” she says.

She said the Kaipatiki Board worked hard with Auckland Council officers to balance their budget and had to make some tough decisions. Despite the input of board member Kay McIntyre, an accountant, and Grant Gillon, past Chair of NSCC’s Strategy and Finance committee, council was not convinced to reconsider the board’s levels of funding.

“The Board will continue to advocate for redress at every opportunity, particularly during the annual agreement negotiations,” Ms Waugh says.

Last week the Kaipatiki Local Board asked council to:
1. Pass Kaipatiki’s budget and cover the $3.3m deficit funding. That would have allowed completion of long overdue legacy projects such as upgrades to its town centres, the cycling and walking track network, and playing fields.
2. Conduct an urgent review into the funding formula for local boards to ensure a more equitable arrangement over the next few years.

Ms Waugh says the last point is very important as there is “entrenched inequity” that shows that excluding Great Barrier, Waiheke and Waitemata, the Long-term Plan budget shows that Kaipatiki gets $79.17 per person less than the average net OPEX funding per person across the remaining 18 boards, a difference of $6,966,960 per year.

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Photo/s by: Supplied
Published by: The Aucklander

Equipment spending criticised

GREEN LIGHT: Adult fitness equipment at a cost of $80,000 is set to be installed at Little Shoal Bay.

Adult fitness equipment for Little Shoal Bay costing $80,000 is creating controversy.

The Kaipatiki Local Board voted five to three in favour of it at their April 11 meeting.

But the Northcote Residents Association, the Birkenhead Residents Association and the Little Shoal Bay Protection Society all want the board to reverse its decision.

Northcote Residents Association chairman Brian Plimmer says the “cash-strapped” board has found $80,000 for a project which no resident has asked for, while projects which the community have requested, some for a long time, cannot be funded.

Birkenhead Residents Association committee member Carol Scott says the association is concerned at the large sum allocated to the project that has not been generated by public demand and the encroachment into the green open space of the reserve.

Little Shoal Bay Protection Society chairman Tony Holman believes the proposal was at the outset “internally generated”‘ and not the result of public demand.

Community consultation on the proposal showed 62.77 per cent of people were in support of the project at the proposed location and 37.23 per cent were against it.

Mr Holman says the society carried out its own survey over the same areas covered by the board’s survey and its results showed 96 per cent against the proposed site and 85 per cent totally against the proposal proceeding at all.

Several people also spoke in favour of the proposal at the meeting’s public forum including Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Trust member support manager Di Vivian.

She says there is a great need for them to be able to access these spaces and places, both for their own good and the good of their grandchildren.

Kaipatiki Local Board chairwoman Lindsay Waugh says it isn’t an “unasked for project” and there is a lot of community support for the project including some very long-term residents.

Northcote MP Jonathan Coleman criticised spending on the equipment saying most people in the relatively affluent neighbourhood go to gyms.

But Ms Waugh says that was a big assumption.

Not everyone can afford gym memberships and it’s about the wider community and their different needss.

Credits

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

Shoal Bay reserve gym gear not the right fit?

Tony Holman stands at the proposed site of new outdoor exercise equipment at Little Shoal Bay. Photo Kellie BlizardA group that has worked for decades to preserve Little Shoal Bay in Northcote is furious at a decision by the Kaipatiki Local Board.

Tony Holman, chairman of Little Shoal Bay Preservation Society, claims the board acted unconstitutionally by voting last week to install adult outdoor exercise equipment worth $80,000 on grass beside Council Tce.

Mr Holman says the 1997 Little Shoal Bay/Le Roys Bush Reserves management plan states the grassy reserve is to be used for open, passive recreation and that the area is to be protected for “its unique environmental landscape”.

He says the plan was formed after extensive public consultation and the board is riding roughshod over that process. As a former North Shore City councillor and chair of its parks committee, he believes he knows the situation well.

“It was a public process, a statutory process. Submissions had a common theme – to keep the area natural. That’s what’s in the development plan and what they should refer to in any decisions.”

But board chair Lindsey Waugh says the equipment will be in a section of park zoned for active recreation. “The advice I have had from council officers is that there is no legal reason that prevents the installation of this equipment.”

She says the location was recommended by parks officers because it is on a popular walking route.

“Support and demand … came from a number of sources in the community,” says Mrs Waugh. “It was brought to the attention of the Birkenhead/Northcote Community Board by the community co-ordinators several years ago, because it responded to the [former] North Shore City Council’s Auckland Regional Physical Activity Strategy.

“The popularity of the … adult fitness equipment at Shepherds Park [Beach Haven] led to subsequent investment in other parts of the Kaipatiki Local Board area.”

The board used a discretionary fund pool for this and equipment in five other parks.

But Mr Holman says this situation differs from Beach Haven’s. “Shepherds Park is a different kettle of fish. It’s an area designated for active recreation. That’s fine there, it’s a permitted use. The whole area at Little Shoal Bay is supposed to be for open, passive recreation. As soon as you start to build on it you interfere with that.”

Mr Holman says the plan clearly says no buildings should be erected where the equipment is planned.

“Other than replacement, no new buildings are permitted on the reserve. The definition of a building under the Buildings Act … is movable or immovable, temporary or permanent … a structure … These are structures and therefore they are buildings and I think they recognise that because they know they have to go for a resource consent.”

Mrs Waugh disagrees: “Exercise equipment is not classified as a building and is therefore permitted. The existing children’s playground was installed after the management plan was written so would have been subject to the same constraints as this proposal.”

The board did acknowledge that the equipment is not specifically permitted in the management plan “as this is 15 years old and the demand for outdoor fitness equipment is relatively new.

“[But] … it is not precluded under the objectives and policies of the plan. Consideration has been given to the relevant policies and objectives of the plan whilst choosing the location for the equipment to minimise its potential impacts,” the summary said.

Mr Holman says a better site would be across the road between the tennis courts, toilets and bowling club, on an under-used carpark.

“It would be much safer there. Where they are suggesting currently is a 30-second dash from a playground and beside a road. It stands to reason children will be drawn to running across to the adult equipment, with its own set of dangers.”

Ms Waugh says the chosen spot is safe and contained by a retaining wall. “Traffic in this area travels very slowly due to the large number of speed bumps on this road. The speed limit is 30km/h.”

She says the board delivered 255 questionnaires to the community and said 37 per cent opposed the equipment from the 36 per cent returned.

Mr Holman’s society also surveyed locals and its results contrast with the board’s. Largely the same area was surveyed, with an 84 per cent negative response from the 26 per cent of people who returned the 300 questionnaires.

Mr Holman says his group shouldn’t have to ensure decisions are made that protect the bay.

“That should be the responsibility of the board, the council and their officers. Why are they spending $80,000 on this equipment anyway? Why aren’t they getting on with other things [that] are in the development plan that have been approved but not begun?”

Areas needing attention include drainage from the reserve’s higher part to the flood-prone lower area, and the poorly designed sand wall which causes sand in the bay to be washed out to sea.

“This is the largest bit of inner harbour shore coastline amenable to having a decent local beach so kids can build sandcastles, but they can’t.”

Mrs Waugh says the board’s long-term plan includes advocating for resanding and mangrove management at both Tui Beach [Beach Haven] and Little Shoal Bay.

She also takes issue with comments by local MP Jonathan Coleman that the area’s affluent residents can afford gym memberships and therefore do not want the equipment.

“That assumes the park is for the exclusive use of those who are fortunate enough to live next door,” she says, adding the community has given “wholehearted support for this initiative”.

That doesn’t sit well with Mr Holman who insists the site is wrong.

“I believe the board’s decision is unconstitutional. They will say it’s only a minor thing, but it’s not minor to be putting active stuff in part of the park labelled for passive recreation and open space.

“It means specific management plans are completely subverted and mean nothing.”
The largely unused car park where Tony Holman thinks the equipment would be better suited.The largely unused car park where Tony Holman thinks the equipment would be better suited.

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Written by: Denise Montgomery
Photo/s by: Kellie Blizard
Reprinted with permission: http://www.theaucklander.co.nz/news/little-shoal-bay-exercise-on-reserve/1350454/