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Protecting Auckland's iconic cones and cliffs

19 May 2006

Moves to protect Auckland's iconic cones and cliffs

Auckland City today announced major changes to its District Plan in a bid to protect the city's iconic volcanic cones and coastal cliffs from inappropriate development.

The proposed Plan Change 192 aims to preserve the natural landscape and the special character of neighbourhoods around some of the city's volcanic cones and coastal cliffs.

It introduces new rules for property owners in the Residential 3 zone and affects what they can and cannot do to their homes and sections.

The chairperson of Auckland City's Environment, Heritage and Urban Form Committee, Councillor Christine Caughey, says the change will bring significant benefits for the city's outstanding natural landforms.

"The volcanic cones and coastal cliffs are iconic features of the Auckland landscape and we must act to preserve, protect and enhance them for future generations to enjoy.

"Auckland is a growing city and there will inevitably be pressure for more development in these geologically precious areas. It is important that we manage growth in these areas in a controlled and sensible way.

"We do not want to see development of such a size and scale that it dominates these stunning natural features and this plan change is designed to ensure that doesn't happen.

"It aims to protect the physical integrity of these landforms from inappropriate earthworks and construction," Ms Caughey says. The plan change will restrict certain activities in the Residential 3 zone, which accounts for less than one per cent of the city's land.

Neighbourhoods affected include properties on the slopes of Mt Eden, Mt Albert, Mt St John's, Mt Hobson and the Glendowie coastal cliffs.

The plan change recognises that there are significant heritage and character homes in the Residential 3 zone and introduces new controls to protect those homes built before 1940.

The chairperson of the Planning and Regulatory Committee, Councillor Glenda Fryer, says people will have their chance to have a say on the proposed plan change.

"The plan change carefully balances the needs of property owners with the need to afford greater protection to the unique landforms that characterise our city.

"The new rules will ensure that development does not dominate these features and it's important to stress that these rules are not onerous for property owners to comply with.

"We believe the greater protection afforded to the special character of these neighbourhoods means these areas will become more desirable places to live," Ms Fryer says.

The proposed changes include the introduction of:

* controls on the demolition of pre-1940s buildings. Demolition or removal of any building will now be a "restricted discretionary activity" and require a resource consent. In the past, houses in the Residential 3 zone could be demolished without a resource consent.

* controls on external additions and alterations for existing homes and for new development. This activity would now be classified as "restricted discretionary", rather than "restricted controlled". It would require a resource consent and the council would have the means to decline the application. At the moment, all applications for additions, alterations and new buildings must be approved, although they can have conditions attached.

* new assessment criteria for the design of new buildings to exert some control over the size, type, landscaping and character of new developments. This includes a requirement to avoid windowless walls and extensive excavation, to use pitched roofs, and to maintain the historic form and pattern of the streetscape.

* controls on the height of new buildings. Those homes adjacent to open space on volcanic cones must be either no more than eight metres tall or the same height as adjacent buildings, whichever is lower.

* requirements for landscaping assessments to show the impact of new development on the surrounding landform, trees and vegetation. This includes a requirement for landscaping or planting as part of any new development to mitigate against the adverse effects of bulky or dominant structures.

* restrictions on earthworks to five cubic metres so that they do not harm the form and texture of volcanic landscapes. There are also restrictions on retaining walls.

* controls on the size of fences so that the maximum permitted height is 1.4 metres. This can be increased to 1.8 metres if a minimum of 40 per cent of the structure is transparent.

* stronger resource management policies for subdivision in the residential 3 zone so that no subdivision is permitted if it would result in a new home higher up the slope of a volcanic cone than existing development.

People who own or live in properties zoned Residential 3 have been informed of the proposed plan change. They and other members of the public have until 19 June to lodge a submission on the proposal.

Copies of the proposed plan change and background information are available on Auckland City's website, www.aucklandcity.govt.nz, or at Level 11, Civic Administration Building, 1 Greys Ave, Auckland


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