DISAPPOINTMENT FOR THOUSANDS OF AUCKLAND HOMEOWNERS
13 February 2017:
Today's decision by the High Court in Auckland to disallow the Character Coalition's appeal against parts of the Unitary plan means thousands of homeowners have been denied a say in what happens to the streets they live in.
Character Coalition chairperson Sally Hughes said " While we accept the Judge's decision, we are very disappointed with the outcome. We do not feel that the 29,000 homeowners, on whose behalf we made the appeal, have had an opportunity to be heard."
"It will now be death by a thousand cuts as developers move in over time, and destroy the character of some of Auckland's most beautiful streets.
Already historic villas in Onehunga in streets zoned THAB are being removed for intensive development and properties for sale are being advertised as development sites."
The Court's decision means that the last minute move by the Auckland Council to change the zoning of many streets that were single house zones in the unitary plan to multi level dwellings will now stand.
"The fact that these zone changes were done at the 11th hour and most of the 29,000 homeowners had no idea they were happening and had no opportunity to raise their concerns is appalling. It may have been legal but, in our view, it was morally wrong. "
"We believe the Council reacted to the massive pressure it was under from the development lobby and denied 29,000 ratepayers any form of natural justice. " said Hughes
The Character Coalition rejected claims that the rezoning was required to solve Auckland's housing crisis.
"The land in many of these streets is so valuable that what we are now seeing is wealthy people buy old villas and demolish them and build bigger houses - but many of these new houses are not in character with the area and still do nothing to solve the housing crisis."
"Shortage of builders, cost of materials, consent delays and financing issues are all currently bigger problems than the zoning of streets which give Auckland its unique character ." said Hughes.
The Character Coalition said it will now look for other ways to strengthen Auckland's heritage.
“ We have no intention of giving up on Auckland’s heritage and character. We hope more people who care about the beauty of Auckland will join us to carry on the fight” said Hughes.
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Character Coalition Takes Council To Court To Protect Auckland’s Housing Heritage
16 September 2016: The CHARACTER COALITION today lodged an appeal in the High Court asking the Auckland Council to look again at zoning changes under its Unitary plan in a number of the City's suburbs.
The appeal focuses on late changes made without public consultation that could put older character homes at risk for no demonstrable benefit.
Convenor Sally Hughes says "The process trampled on people's rights with a last minute decision to change the zoning in many streets ,effectively denying people the chance to have any say in the matter."
The Coalition's legal challenge is aimed at restoring residents’ "right to be heard."
"The Unitary plan process allows for this appeal and it's extremely important the planners look again at a small number of areas.....once the character homes in these suburbs are gone, they are gone forever. We only have one chance."
"This appeal won't hold up the bulk of the Unitary plan, and it will have no impact on affordability of Auckland houses. It involves less than 1 percent of our housing stock." says Hughes.
The Coalition says the last minute changes have all the hallmarks of someone getting out a marker pen and drawing a thick line around the City's main arterial roads indiscriminately targeting character areas.
"People living along and beyond main transport routes in suburbs like Onehunga, Westmere, Glendowie, Grey Lynn, Henderson, Grafton and Blockhouse Bay woke up one morning to find their rights had been completely trampled on, it was undemocratic and unrealistic."
"Some streets that contain important character homes suddenly went from single house only, to zones allowing 3 storey apartment blocks."
"In some of the affected streets, like Francis Street in Grey Lynn, houses date back to the early 1900's. Others in Westmere contain noted 1920s bungalows. In Grey Street, Onehunga there are important turn of the century villas that add greatly to the suburb's character.
Sticking multi-storey apartment blocks next to them doesn't make sense and will not solve Auckland's housing issues."
"We are not against intensification, Auckland needs that; but you get only one chance to do it properly and rushing it could prove to be a big mistake."
The COALITION says the Council may be adopting a population growth rate that is too high, despite being advised against it by Statistics New Zealand.
"Statistics NZ its mid-point projections should be used by planners (750,000 more people by 2040) instead the Council went with the figure of one million."
"What if immigration slows down over the next 20 years? And we have lost irreplaceable character streets due to a Council blunder?"
"There is massive value in our stock of wooden buildings.....they are what gives the city its unique character. Let's not blow it."
Character Coalition: because Character Counts
The Character Coalition is an umbrella group representing heritage, historical and special interest groups and residents associations who care deeply about their city.
We have joined together out of a sense of frustration that the community is not being listened to. We have watched with despair as precious buildings and areas have been destroyed to make way for, often inappropriate, new developments. We have felt shut out of the decision-making process that determines development in our local environments, a process that seems designed to disempower ordinary citizens.
Read, print and or download Draft Unitary Plan Feedback by Character Coalition members
Auckland Council accused of hijacking Unitary Plan
Auckland Council’s push to protect pre-1944 houses ‘unnecessary’
Auckland residents say they feel deflated and ignored after the rejection of a council proposal to protect character housing areas built before 1944. Listen to it here;
Or read about it here; Move to protect character housing rejected
Character Coalition Auckland Unitary Plan Submission
The Character Coalition has joined forces with Auckland 2040
The Character Coalition has joined forces with Auckland 2040 in calling on the Council to rethink the Unitary Plan.
We do not oppose change or growth. We know there will need to be intensification but this plan has been done the wrong way around. A bottom up process would have engaged people at the beginning of the discussions and led to widespread buy in.
If people feel they have had a say and been listened to they are more willing to accept change. The Council must listen to this ground swell and use it as an opportunity to get a better result not dig in and refuse to make the changes being called for.