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Council adopts rules to protect character suburbs



15 December 2006

Council adopts rules to protect character suburbs

The Auckland City Council has voted to adopt new planning rules which offer greater protection for the city’s character suburbs.

The new rules introduce tighter controls for the demolition or removal of pre-1940s homes in residential 1 and 2 zones, which include parts of Ponsonby, Mt Eden and Remuera.

The rules also introduce enhanced architectural guidelines to ensure new houses built in these areas use designs and materials that are sympathetic with the surviving character of these traditional suburbs.

The council decision follows a hearings panel recommendation that plan change 163 be adopted with some modifications.

Mayor Dick Hubbard welcomes the move.

“This sends a clear message that the city’s character is a highly valued resource and the council is ready and willing to act to preserve it for future generations.

“I’m proud to be part of such a proactive move to introduce mechanisms to offer greater protection for the character of areas which make Auckland a unique city.”

Councillor Glenda Fryer was one of the five commissioners on the hearings panel that considered the plan change.

She says the panel considered around 300 submissions, which raised a variety of complex issues that contributed to the panel’s final decision on the plan change.

“The commissioners believe the plan change is justified to protect and manage the finite resource of character homes in the residential 1 and 2 zones,” Ms Fryer says.

“Without it, we could see the historic built environment in the residential 1 and 2 zones eroded or destroyed over time, particularly with regard to the demolition of older houses. This plan change offers a way to sustainably manage this resource so that the entire community can enjoy it.”

Ms Fryer says the commissioners made recommendations for several alterations to the text of the plan change, including changes to the architectural guidelines. Many of the changes are intended to make the plan change easier to understand and include more diagrams and better explanations of the rules.

She says they also recommended that the council consider the following steps:

• encouraging people to refurbish properties rather than building new

• improvements to the process for dealing with residential 1 and 2 applications

• further training and staff resourcing to handle applications.

Environment, Heritage and Urban Form Committee chairperson Councillor Christine Caughey, says the hearings panel recommendations are a strong endorsement.

“The panel clearly felt the existing rules did not offer the kind of protection needed for our character neighbourhoods and that’s why they so strongly supported the new rules.

“These new rules mean we now have a very clear system of checks and balances for older buildings in these zones.

“That provides greater certainty for everyone involved. It means that anyone who wants to demolish or remove a pre-1940s building will have to seek council approval and provide a justification for their proposed actions.”

Ms Caughey says the architectural guidelines are a key feature of the new rules because they mean that any new homes built will have to be designed to blend in with the character of these areas.

“This means we will no longer see modern homes which look completely out of place in a street of villas. We will get a continuity of character between old and new homes,” she says.

Anyone who made a submission on plan change 163 now has the right to appeal the council’s decision to adopt the new planning rules through the Environment Court.


Note to editors:

The key changes of the plan change include:

• that the demolition or the removal of any building constructed prior to 1940 in the residential 1 and 2 zones will require a resource consent as a restricted discretionary activity

• that external additions or alterations to existing buildings and all new and relocated buildings in the residential 1 and 2 zones will require a resource consent as a restricted discretionary activity

• that new and/or revised assessment criteria will apply for external additions and alterations, new and relocated buildings, and the demolition or removal of any building constructed prior to 1940

• that new and/or revised objectives and policies will apply for the residential 1 and 2 zones

• that a new appendix on architectural design guidelines for the residential 1 and 2 zones be introduced

• that the front yard landscaping development control for the residential 1 and 2 zones be reduced from 60 per cent to 50 per cent

• that a new 3m plus 45 degrees building in relation to boundary development control be applied to the longer road frontage boundary of any corner site in the residential 1 zone

• that a new development control in front yards in relation to the fence/wall height in the residential 2 zone be introduced. Maximum permitted height is 1.4m but this can be increased to 1.8m in height if 40 per cent of the entire structure is visually permeable

• that a change to the fencing provision of 1.2m in the residential 1 zone from restricted controlled activity to restricted discretionary development control be introduced.

Key changes to the plan change introduced by the hearings panel include:

• a change of activity status for development control modification for rule fences, walls and other structures, from discretionary activity to restricted discretionary and changes to the assessment criteria for this activity

• removal of the need to publicly notify applications for demolition or obtain the written approval of or serve notice on affected persons except as provided for by section 94(c) of the Resource Management Act 1991.

• altered and additional assessment criteria for demolition and inclusion of a 30 per cent by volume threshold for demolition

• changes to the assessment criteria for alterations and additions and new buildings in the residential 1 and 2 zones and changes to the landscaping provisions for the front yard of sites in the residential 1 zone.


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