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Auckland ushers in new inner city design controls

Auckland City Council ushers in major new inner city design controls

Auckland City Council today announced a raft of new planning controls which the Deputy Mayor, Dr Bruce Hucker, says will herald the end of substandard apartments and make the city worth living in.

Changes proposed for the Central Area District Plan (proposed plan change 2) are being formally notified today. They have been kept confidential until today – to prevent any rush of development applications trying to skirt the new regime.

Dr Hucker, chairperson of the Urban Strategy and Governance Committee and the Mayoral Taskforce on Urban Design, said today the proposed plan changes – now open for public comment – would have a major impact and aimed to rid the city of poor quality design.

“Today we’re sounding the death knell of the pokey apartment, ugly building era,” Dr Hucker said.

The changes impose both residential amenity controls and new design criteria.

These minimum standards impose a range of apartment design criteria including: minimum gross floor area; studio 35m2, one bed 45m2, two bed 70m2, three + bed 90m2. minimum floor to ceiling height of 2.4m for habitable rooms and 2.3m for other rooms minimum widths of common circulation corridors of 1.5m minimum daylight standards, a total clear glazed area of exterior wall no less than 20 per cent of the floor area of that space minimum internal storage and wardrobe space secure storage space a maximum number of studios and one bedroom units in any one development.

These minimum standards will be applied in tandem with detailed urban design principles which say: building design should be of the highest quality, showing creativity, innovation, responsiveness to the local context in a way that contributes to the identity of Auckland City at every scale including appearance of the CBD from outside the Central Area and the CBD skyline, streets, neighbourhoods and precincts. buildings should address and align to the street boundary to a height appropriate to define and enclose the street the rhythm and scale of architectural features, finishes and colour should harmonise with and complement the streetscape where there is little or no established street pattern, sound building design precedents should be introduced to provide visual clues to the building’s overall scale and size and to avoid flat planes or blank facades devoid of modulation, relief and surface detail design at ground level must contribute to pedestrian vitality, interest and public safety. This includes architectural detail and maximising doors, window openings and balconies fronting streets and other public open spaces. Frontages entirely of glass must not be used at street level as they detract from the streetscape.

Dr Hucker says the changes will not only improve design quality – but improve apartment living and privacy – and boost of the overall quality of inner city life.

Project manager for Auckland's CBD into the future strategy, Jo Wiggins, said that it was exciting to know that the CBD is the first area across the city to benefit from new urban design controls which reflect our desire to transform Auckland's CBD into one of the world's most vibrant and dynamic business and cultural centres.

In developing the new controls council officers considered advice and recommendations from the Urban Design Panel and the Mayoral Taskforce on Urban Design. They also reviewed the CBD controls for Melbourne and Sydney and how they influenced good urban design.

Dr Hucker says the boom in CBD residential apartment building has spawned serious concerns about unit sizes, poor natural lighting, ventilation, noise and separation distances between high rise blocks, their outlooks and outdoor amenity areas.

Auckland City has responded to these concerns and over the past 12 months have co-ordinated a series of workshops with council officers, relevant experts from the Property Council, the Real Estate Institute, the New Zealand Institute of Architects, Wellington City Council and local developers to prepare a set of minimum dimensions and standards for apartments.

These changes are in line with the council’s ‘Auckland Urban Living’ programme which has been established to integrate the City’s approaches to managing growth and change while strengthening Auckland Communities.

“While growth is a real and necessary aspect of any flourishing city, we see it as vitally important to ensure that the face of the city retains a character and style reflective of a dynamic and vibrant environment,” says Dr Hucker.

Councillor Glenda Fryer, who chairs the council’s Planning and Regulatory Committee, which considers plan change proposals, says the new urban design controls will be triggered by: any new building or the external alteration or addition to any existing building.

These developments will now require a restricted discretionary resource consent. This means the council will be able to approve or decline these proposals if it is not satisfied the new standards are being met.

To guide developers and designers, the proposed plan change includes a list of 12 assessment criteria relating to: general design principles rooftops corner and gateways sites materials activities adaptable buildings accessways, links and vehicle access development abutting or in close proximity to scheduled heritage items crime prevention residential accommodation outlook space, and sustainability.

Councillor Fryer says, “At last we can now get a firm grip on central city quality – and send a strong message to those who’d impose upon us anything less that they shouldn’t bother. Combined with the new directions signalled by the Mayoral Task Force on Urban Design and new sweeping plan changes to save the character home neighbourhoods, developers and architects are getting the strongest message ever: shoddy is out – quality is in.”

Members of the public have until Friday, 29 July 2005 to make submissions on the proposed plan change. Copies of the proposed plan change and background information are available on Auckland City’s website www.aucklandcity.govt.nz/centralareaplan from 5pm Friday, 3 June 2005, or at level 11, Civic Administration Building, 1 Greys Ave, central city or at Auckland central library.

Ends

Note to editors:

Some of the new design controls’ impacts will include:

better outlook, windows/balconies may not be too close to other buildings, maximise outlook onto streets and open spaces noise standards for all new residential buildings – no more than 35 decibels in bedrooms and not more than 45 decibels in other rooms attractive public spaces that are welcomed by people and help to deter crime through bright lighting crime prevention through environmental design principles adaptable building form – encourages restoration, conversion and re-use of building spaces over time, minimum height for each building floor, minimum glazing requirement to encourage street activity vehicle access and pedestrian links – should contribute to a safe, comfortable pedestrian environment, provide shortcuts through buildings to avoid the need to travel long distances around city blocks heritage – new developments should be sympathetic to the scale, setback, form and character of nearby heritage buildings, and should not detract from heritage features where possible, new developments along the original Waitemata shoreline should identify and enhance this historic feature sustainable building design – takes a long term approach to energy and stormwater efficiency, optimises use of efficient energy sources, on-site stormwater conservation measures should be considered rubbish disposal – facilities should be located within the building, near a loading bay provide residents with adequate sunlight natural ventilation using windows facing different directions. Use of air-conditioning alone is discouraged adequate living space and mix of apartments recreation – where possible rooftop areas should be designed for recreation purposes.

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