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Character and Heritage Streets in Grave Danger

Character and Heritage Streets in Grave Danger

The Auckland City Council has amended its District Plan to make operative in part (finalise) changes to the Residential 2 zone, which 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”. Typical Residential 2 areas have bungalows and villas built before 1940 in tree-filled residential suburbs, for example, like most of Remuera.

Councillor Glenda Fryer said, “It is the part of Plan Change 163 that is not being made operative that is of real concern to me. We are sending the decisions on the criteria for deciding where demolition or removal controls are to apply to be made by the Environment Court, and I believe Aucklanders who are concerned about keeping the leafy streetscape, character and heritage in their Residential 2 zoned streets have a very real cause to be worried.”

Mayor John Banks claims to have “brokered a good deal” between developers and property rights advocates and the heritage groups which have defended and protected the city’s heritage.

Councillor Glenda Fryer said, “This claim flies in the face of what has in reality been advocated for, and proposed by, the Mayor and Citizens and Ratepayers (C&R) Councillors for our suburban streets.

“What I see on the maps, that will be provided to the Environment Court by the Council, are whole streets in Mt Eden, Epsom, Herne Bay, Three Kings and Mt Albert with a hotchpotch where some houses will be protected and others aren’t.

“Let’s face it, if you live in a house protected from demolition and yet the almost identical house next door is not protected from demolition, then you lose any certainty about what could go up next door. That is why Council decided to develop a plan change back in 2005 to protect those very suburbs from having perfectly good character homes demolished.

“Many Residential 2 houses sit on large sites that could have two to six townhouses built on them. What certainty does it give to the homeowners who choose to retain the protections, that their residential street will have stability and a streetscape that will remain one of character and heritage?

“I believe that the bar has been set too high when the new criteria being submitted to the Environment Court is that houses that retain protection must ‘contribute significantly to the distinctive quality of streetscape character’. If there are high fences or garages in front of a Residential 2 house, both of which Council would have given permission to build in the past, then it could be deemed that the house no longer contributes ‘significantly’ to the streetscape character.

“In fact these suburbs will be hit by a double whammy. C&R made a deliberate decision last year not to protect the trees that give the ‘leafy’ Residential 2 zones suburbs a great part of their ‘significant’ character. From 1 January 2012, new RMA laws will allow all trees in Residential 2 and all other zones to be removed that are not presently scheduled.

“I believe this Banks-C&R solution will not serve to protect either the leafy streetscape of our natural environment, or the built environment of character and heritage houses in Auckland’s oldest and much loved suburbs. When the Mayor claims to be a protector of Auckland’s heritage, I think Aucklanders will respond with ‘yeah, right’”.


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