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State Of Environment Report Gives Heritage Targets A Fail

State Of Environment Report Gives Heritage Targets A Fail

Auckland Mayoral Candidate Mark Thomas said today’s State of the Environment Report 2015 confirms Len Brown’s growth plans are failing to protect Auckland's heritage.

Despite the Auckland Plan targeting a doubling of scheduled historic places from 2,100 in 2012 to 4,200 by 2030, today’s report shows only 52 sites have been added in the last three years.

The Orakei Local Board member and business owner, who announced his candidacy for Mayor recently, said at this rate by 2030 Auckland will be 1,800 places short of the target.

Thomas said the report’s comment on historic heritage makes for concerning reading. It said: “The state of Auckland’s heritage environment remains poorly understood.”

It comments that: “…we do not systematically monitor our historic heritage. There is no regional monitoring programme providing information on the changing state of our heritage items or on the effectiveness of the council’s responses.
The report comments that the number of recorded heritage items has steadily increased, but despite this, “it is hard to establish a clear picture of the overall condition of historic heritage or the success of heritage provisions, due to an overall lack of research and monitoring.

In a sobering conclusion it states: “Few conclusions can therefore be drawn about whether historic heritage as a whole is being protected over time.”

Thomas said that as the Auckland Heritage Festival concludes this weekend many who have attended the over 180 events will have reflected on how much progress has been made protecting Auckland's heritage.

“Regrettably the State of the Environment Report, the first one since 2009, provides an unwelcome answer.”

Thomas said the lack of progress growing Auckland’s heritage stocktake was matched by the failure to adequately determine pre-1944 character assets.

“The Unitary Plan Hearing Panel's rejection in August of council's pre-1944 character protection overlay was principally because the Mayor did not prioritise and fund the assessment work to determine which housing stock should fall under the overlay.

“When he presented his Long Term Plan budget proposal last year the Mayor referred to the Auckland Plan’s focus on enhancing and protecting Auckland’s built heritage, but he did not produce a budget which delivers this.”

“Local Boards wanting access to council resources to complete pre-1944 character assessments have been told even if they can fund this, there were no staff resource available to undertake it.”

“Protecting Auckland's heritage is an essential part of our growth planning. But to preserve both Auckland’s heritage and character we have to define it. We both risk losing heritage assets, and frustrating new development as character issues are litigated at resource consent hearings, if we do not resolve this.”
Mark Thomas said he wants Aucklanders to support his plans to both speed up the protection of Auckland’s heritage, to agree sensible character rules and to allow greater housing growth in areas where that is currently difficult. This would come from his rewrite of the Auckland Plan which would drive resources more into these priority areas, and from a Unitary Plan change if required.

More work is also needed around the public and private economic benefits from heritage and character improvements as mentioned by Heritage Economist Donovan Rypkema in his address in Auckland earlier this year. Auckland also needs to look at quicker and more cost effective surveying and assessment of heritage and character sites.


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