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BNZ and Auckland City agree on design panel

10 March 2005

BNZ and Auckland City agree on design panel for Jean Batten Building site development

Auckland City and Bank of New Zealand have agreed that Bank of New Zealand will suspend progress on its plans for a new corporate headquarters on lower Queen Street while a council-appointed panel considers proposals for the bank owned site.

Under the agreement, Bank of New Zealand and the developer, Multiplex, will not seek resource consent for the proposed new building on the site in the immediate future, and the bank will not exercise its resource consent to demolish the buildings currently on the site, including the Jean Batten State Building.

The council resolved this morning to ask the urban design panel and council officers to work with the Bank of New Zealand. Any proposal would then go through a normal hearing process for which the council has set up a special hearings panel.

Among other factors, the panel will take into account the council’s overall aims for urban design excellence in the central business district and Bank of New Zealand’s objective of constructing a state-of-the-art building that provides a long-term corporate head office for the bank.

All options will be reviewed including retaining the Jean Batten State Building, redeveloping the entire block based on current Bank of New Zealand designs or a redesign of the proposed new building.

Council will also suspend consideration of heritage protection of Jean Batten State Building while the urban design panel considers the site. Currently, the building has no protection under the Auckland City district plan.

The bank and the council say the agreement recognises the sensitivities surrounding the Jean Batten State Building and the future commercial use of a prime downtown site, and the need for those two factors to be considered closely.

“I am pleased that Bank of New Zealand has agreed to defer action on its plans for the site while the urban design panel examines options,” said the Mayor, Dick Hubbard.

“We face a difficult decision. The council must balance the need for confidence and certainty in its processes alongside its aim of setting the overall direction of design and urban form in central Auckland,” said the mayor.

The Bank of New Zealand General Manager in charge of the building project, Celia Patrick, welcomed the agreement. “Bank of New Zealand would like to reach agreement with council on the site, taking into account the bank’s objectives and council’s concerns.”

Ms Patrick said Bank of New Zealand had been developing plans for a new corporate head office for several years.

“Bank of New Zealand has had a major presence on lower Queen Street for more than 140 years and, if it is possible, the bank would like to continue to have its corporate head office in central Auckland.

“Any new building the bank builds in Queen Street will be an international-class building and it will relieve the pressure that is currently on the bank to provide improved accommodation for its 600 staff in central Auckland. It would provide excellent services and facilities for customers.”


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