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Auckland 2040 Group Meet Mayor For Talks about Unitary Plan

Auckland Mayor Len Brown and Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse meet Auckland 2040 Group for Urgent Talks about Unitary Plan

Auckland 24 May 2013

In response to mounting public outrage following Auckland 2040's disclosure of the implications behind critical elements of the draft unitary plan, Auckland 2040 Founders Richard Burton and Guy Haddleton met this week with the Mayor, and Deputy Mayor for intensive discussions.

The meeting was constructive, with the Mayor willing to consider proposals put forward by Auckland 2040 for amendments to the plan. He also expressed a commitment to have a fair and meaningful dialogue with Auckland 2040 over the next few months, stating that the Unitary Plan would not be notified in September until 80-90% of the issues were resolved. 

Following the meeting, Auckland 2040 has submitted their proposals in a letter to the Mayor and is now awaiting feedback.

Comments Richard Burton, “I look forward to the healthy public debate that will emerge from our proposal and our participation in on-going discussions with Council”

Letter to Auckland Mayor below:

22 May 2013

His Worship the Mayor

Our thanks to you and Deputy Major Ms P Hulse for taking the time to meet with Auckland 2040 and the Character Coalition yesterday. We were very pleased to read in the NZ Herald that you agreed with much of what we said.

A fundamental issue in looking at the future growth of Auckland is the extent to which Auckland is likely to grow over the next 30 years. That Auckland is growing and will continue to grow is undisputed; it is the rate and extent of growth which is at issue. Significant under or over estimation can have profound effects on future planning. We request that Auckland City:

·       Be completely transparent in revealing the statistical justification for Council’s 1,000,000 population increase forecast for the next 30 years

·       Reconsider the Auckland population estimate of 1,000, 000 additional population over the next 30 years to align with Statistics NZ Medium estimates. Overseas cities generally adopt the Medium estimate in planning for growth and then monitor that estimate over time, with adjustments up or down depending on actual growth. The High estimate as used by Auckland Council may overstate actual growth by as much as 50%. Overstating the population increase has serious implications on infrastructure and the need for high density intensification and or greenfields development.

The Draft Unitary Plan has been prepared on the basis of an additional 1,000,000 population over 30 years. Even if Auckland reaches such growth levels, it will not happen overnight but rather in a progressive incremental manner. It is thus logical to release land for intensification and green field’s development in a staged manner. To zone immediately 56% of Auckland’s residential areas for unrestrained, scattered apartment development is neither logical nor staged. Neither would immediate release of greenfields land sufficient for 400,000 people be logical or staged. Fortunately no-one is suggesting the latter.

We are not opposed to intensification, nor apartment development. We are opposed to scattered, un-planned, uncoordinated developments with no or inadequate consideration of urban character values, heritage values or infrastructure and no community consultation.

Certainty in an urban framework context is of fundamental importance to most people living in or buying into neighbourhoods. While alteration or addition of dwellings is largely accepted, structures introducing a different, more discordant building form are strongly opposed. Many residential areas have a mature character with established dwellings and streetscapes. Some have a dominant heritage character. Many of the most popular areas have had significant infill, but the infill is of a similar character to the existing housing so is accepted, albeit reluctantly in some quarters. Apartment buildings are a very alien building form in those streetscapes and the uncertainty of whether this form of development will occur in “my street” is what is galvanizing Aucklanders to object to Council’s proposals.

Auckland 2040 and the Character Coalition request that Council approach the Unitary Plan in a more planned and staged manner. Specifically Council should reduce the amount of land zoned for apartment development and instead have a more targeted focus providing development opportunities while preserving most of the existing residential areas.

If demand indicates more apartment zoned land is required, Council can undertake the appropriate neighbourhood or town centre studies with meaningful community involvement prior to release of more land for redevelopment. If full structure planning is required prior to release of greenfields land then why should not the same apply to intensification proposals within the existing urban area?

The following proposals should be considered in the context of the above statements. We request the Auckland Council give consideration to the following proposed amendments to the Unitary Plan:

1.     The introduction of a new residential Infill Zone which allows one and two storey buildings only and permits infill at a density of one unit per 350m2 net site area. This zone to be applied to the majority of the residential areas and in particular to residential areas which:
a.      Retain a strong residential character of 1 –2 story dwellings ,or
b.     Have significant heritage values, or
c.      Are close to sensitive environments such as the coast, lakes, volcanic cones, or
d.     Have been subject to considerable infill development, but which retain predominantly stand-alone housing, or
e.      Have topographical challenges which would tend to increase the adverse effects of apartment buildings

2.     The Mixed Housing Zone be restricted to areas in close proximity to town centers or selected arterial routes with good roading, public transport and infrastructure and which do not have the characteristics in (1) above.

3.     The Terrace House and Apartment Zone be confined to areas immediately adjoining inner city or Metropolitan Centres, plus the major town centres subject to (5) below.

4.     Development controls to be reconfigured to address adjoining property effects, and height limits to be restricted by full discretionary activity status, including public notification and affected party’s consents for exceeding height.

5.     That Metropolitan, Town Centre and neighbourhood studies be undertaken with community involvement to determine the most appropriate zoning mix after due consideration of existing urban character, heritage values, infrastructure and traffic. That Council reconsider town centre studies undertaken by previous council’s or Environment Court decisions affecting specific areas and incorporate the principal findings of those studies/decisions into the Unitary Plan.

6.     That should Council determine that additional intensification is warranted in the future due to increased demand, Council undertake structure planning of the areas where intensification is planned. Such structure planning should be similar in scope to that required for greenfields planning and have an aim of achieving a significant degree of community consensus.

We would welcome the opportunity to discuss these proposals in a constructive manner with Council and senior staff.

Yours sincerely,

Guy Haddleton, Auckland 2040
Richard Burton, Auckland 2040
Sally Hughes, Character Coalition

About Auckland 2040

Auckland 2040 is a newly formed grass roots organization of non political residents passionately concerned about the future planning and shape of Auckland. Its web site is www.auckland2040.org.nz

ENDS

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