Herald on unitary plan

The Herald provides a guide to the :

Height is at the top of many people’s minds with the Unitary Plan.

Whether it’s walls of apartments on the ridges overlooking Browns Bay or 18-storey high rises in Newmarket, the council is facing a chorus of complaints.

Buildings in central Auckland will have no height restriction, and 10 metro centres such as Takapuna, Henderson, Botany and Newmarket will have an 18-storey limit. In another 37 town centres, the limit will be eight, six and four storeys, and in local centres, such as Mt Eden, it will be three or four storeys.

To prevent a canyon effect, any buildings of four storeys or more will have to be set back from the street and require resource consent.

After nine weeks of saying the maximum height of “small scale apartment buildings” in the residential “mixed housing” zone was two storeys, it emerged last week that the height limit is three storeys.

That omission of the real height limit is what has destroyed a lot of trust.

The days of “shoebox” apartments are back with plans to reduce the minimum apartment size from 35sq m to 30sq m, plus a minimum balcony space of 8sq m.

I’m not sure there should be a minimum size at all. If someone wants to live in a 25 square metre apartment, then let them.

The proposed rewrite of Auckland’s tarnished heritage rules leaves power in the hands of unelected bureaucrats and shuts out the public.

This is the view of the Character Coalition – a group of heritage and community organisations – that called for Auckland to follow Brisbane, which prevents demolition of pre-1945 houses unless the owner can make a case. The public have a say in the process.

On a visit to Auckland in March, Queensland Government architect Malcolm Middleton said the Brisbane model had been considered radical when introduced 15 years ago, but was now largely accepted and worked for the amenity and value of character suburbs.

The rules in the draft Unitary Plan will see council or consultant planners using case law to decide if applications to demolish or remove a house would be publicly notified or not. The council says more applications will be publicly notified. When this method was used by the former North Shore City Council, two of 17 applications were notified in eight years.

The council has proposed widening the heritage net to pre-1944 houses outside the existing heritage character areas and requiring owners to obtain a resource consent for demolition. The council, however, says the public will have no say in this process and officers will make the call because many landowners bought in these areas knowing they were not heritage areas.

Mayor Len Brown and chief executive Doug McKay are refusing to release the documents of a political working party, that meets behind closed doors, used to draw up the heritage rules.

The documents should of course be released, before submissions close on 31 May.

I think extending the definition of heritage to all pre-1944 houses is daft. Old is not the same as heritage.

Michael Goudie, a 28-year-old councillor, was picked by Mayor Len Brown and Penny Hulse to fire up young people to counter the views of generally older “Nimbys” – Not in My Backyard.

But instead of a legitimate campaign to get teens and 20-somethings to jump on social media with their views, Brown and Hulse turned a blind eye when Goudie promoted an anonymous blog labelling the elderly as “selfish, arrogant and narrow-minded” who should “just hurry up and die”.


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