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Sweeping plan changes announced to save suburbs

MEDIA RELEASE
27 May 2005


Sweeping plan changes announced to save Auckland city’s character suburbs

Auckland City Council today announced sweeping district plan changes in an effort to save the city’s character suburbs.

Auckland City’s Mayor, Dick Hubbard, unveiled previously confidential work proposing a raft of changes affecting what owners can do with their character homes in residential 1 and 2 zones.

Some 16,300 character homes will be affected by the city’s proposed plan change 163 changes to residential 1 and 2 zones provisions, being formally notified on 29 May.

The proposed plan change work has been kept confidential until the notification to ensure no pre-emptive action was taken to demolish any homes.

Mr Hubbard says the proposed plan changes – now subject to public input – will “end the days of the unannounced bulldozer” in the character neighbourhoods.

“And our research indicates an overwhelming majority living in the zones back moves to save their neighbourhoods.

“If the proposed changes make it into the district plan, they will have the effect of creating suburbs the whole country will treasure.

“What we’re proposing sends the strongest of signals that we are serious about protecting our heritage and neighbourhoods.”

The residential 1 zone is intended to protect the built historic character of Auckland’s early established residential neighbourhoods. Promoting the survival of the historic form of these neighbourhoods is the primary objective of this zone. The zone includes large portions of Ponsonby, Grey Lynn, Herne Bay, St Mary’s Bay, Freemans Bay, and Mt Eden, with smaller pockets in Ellerslie, Onehunga, Parnell, Avondale and Otahuhu. These areas are dominated by a large number of villas and bungalows which contribute to their valued special character.

The residential 2 zone is intended to protect the spacious and tree-filled qualities of sites characterised by generously sized lots, wide roads and lower densities often with period housing. The residential 2 special character zones can be found primarily in Mt Albert, Herne Bay, Epsom, One Tree Hill, Parnell, Remuera, Kohimarama, and St Heliers. Smaller areas of residential 2 can be found elsewhere in the city.

This proposed plan change to the isthmus district plan introduces new provisions to the residential 1 and 2 zones, including:

Demolition or removal of any building constructed prior to 1940 in the residential 1 and 2 zones requires resource consent as a restricted discretionary activity. Council will review the structural and physical condition of the building, whether restoration or renovation is practical and reasonable, and the relationship and contribution of that building to the streetscape. Demolition of a building may be considered for notification and/or written approvals requested from affected people. Permission to demolish a building may be declined. Previously houses in residential 1 and 2 zones could be demolished without a resource consent.
External additions and alterations to existing buildings and all new buildings in the residential 1 and 2 zones require resource consent as a restricted discretionary activity (currently restricted controlled). Inappropriate designs can be declined by council, if they do not meet design criteria which include considerations of scale and form, and surrounding streetscape. Generally, design issues will not be considered for public notification.
A new appendix on statutory architectural design guidelines for the residential 1 and 2 zones, providing detailed information about appropriate development on these sites, is included in the district plan. (Included with additional information.)
Front yard landscaping control in the residential 1 zone reduced from 60 per cent to 50 per cent. This will allow car parking platforms to be incorporated into the front yard, allowing for more off-street parking. This proposed change recognises that sites are narrow and parking is often required in front yards in this zone.
There is currently no control on the height of a building in relation to its distance from the road boundary in the residential 1 zone. For corner sites, a new “building in relation to boundary” control will be applied to the longer road boundary, which will result in less dominant buildings on corner sites.
New control on front yard fence/wall height in the residential 2 zone. Maximum permitted height is 1.4m, this can be increased to 1.8m where 40 per cent of the entire structure is transparent, allowing better appreciation of spacious front yards and gardens. Currently 2m high solid fences are allowable.
A change to the fencing provisions (1.2m high picket fence) in the residential 1 zone from a listed controlled activity to a discretionary development control. Applications can now be declined, or neighbours’ written approvals may be required.

These changes will encourage sympathetic design which protects the special character of residential 1 and 2 zones. Residents will see fewer designs that contrast with this character. Rather than permitting demolition of pre-1940s buildings, the provisions will encourage the restoration and renovation of these buildings where they contribute to the streetscape character.

The chair of the council’s Environment, Heritage and Urban Form Committee, Councillor Christine Caughey says, “These proposed changes to the district plan reflect the priority this council gives to heritage protection in residential zones. They have been developed in response to residents and community boards, in particular the Western Bays Community Board, wanting more confidence that the special character houses in these zones will be protected from demolition for new development.”

All sites in the residential 1 and 2 zones will be affected by this plan change.

Members of the public have until Friday, 1 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 HYPERLINK "http://www.aucklandcity.govt.nz/" www.aucklandcity.govt.nz, or at level 11, Civic Administration Building, 1 Greys Ave, central city or at Auckland city libraries.

Ends

Notes to editors:
Restricted discretionary activity Requires a resource consent which can be declined by council. “Restricted” means that only those matters that are set out in the District Plan are assessed. Council can specify whether or not a particular activity will be notified.

Restricted controlled activity Requires a resource consent, but the resource consent cannot be declined. “Restricted” means that only those matters that are set out in the District Plan are assessed. These activities are not able to be notified, unless there are special circumstances.

Permitted activity These activities do not require a resource consent.

Listed controlled activity These are activities that are identified as needing assessment because they may result in adverse effects on the environment. Cannot be declined. Written approval from neighbours not required.

Discretionary development controls These control the bulk and location of development on a site. They include controls on heights, front yards, and coverage allowed on a site.

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