01 Nov 2012

Developers confused by Council plans

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Published: Hibiscusmatters – 01 November 2012

Developers confused by Council plansDevelopers’ optimism about Auckland Council’s plans for intensification has been somewhat deflated by initial impressions of the Area and Unitary Plans, which went before the public and stakeholders last month.

Last year, when Southside Group director Chris Jones revealed his concept for “an iconic” 10-12 storey building on his site at 292–312 Hibiscus Coast Highway, he was upbeat about the prospects for a Unitary Plan that would enable development such as his to move forward.

However since then he says he has been forced to sit on his hands, awaiting some certainty, and that documents released by Council are confusing and contradictory.

“The Auckland Plan promoted Orewa as a town centre, with six to eight storeys as allowable heights, whereas the Hibiscus & Bays Local Board’s Area Plan is talking about four storeys,” Mr Jones says.

The first working draft of the Unitary Plan, discussed with stakeholders last month in Orewa, makes mention of four to six storeys in areas close to metropolitan, town and local centres.

It also includes a strong emphasis on design quality and development controls to address amenity issues, such as privacy, outlook and overshadowing.

Currently in Orewa town centre, building to more than 10.5m (three to four storeys) is a restricted discretionary activity.

Mr Jones says he has met with planners who are writing the Unitary and Area Plans.

“We have put our aims to them and depending on the outcome, we will make a decision. It’s a very frustrating business.”

He says an additional concern is Council’s choice of areas for intensification.

“Intense development is being promoted around transport hubs, but that’s not where the demand is. If you want density, you might as well have it where people can afford to buy into it, such as in Remuera, or Orewa. However in those areas, people also have the resources to fight greater intensification through the Resource Management Act so Council is putting more emphasis on areas such as South Auckland where there is less ability to appeal the process.”

He says whatever is contained in the final Unitary and Area Plans, his building will go through a full resource consent process.

“In the end, if the local lobby against high rise buildings like this is too strong, we may be defeated.”

Area Plans by each local board feed into the Unitary Plan, which replaces the District Plans of all the former Councils. Public consultation on the Hibiscus & Bays Area Plan is underway, and the Unitary Plan has been discussed with stakeholders and will be released for public consultation next March.

The next Area Plan engagement dates are: November 2, Whangaparaoa Library, 11am–3pm; and November 13, Orewa Service Centre, Centreway Rd, Orewa, 10am–1pm.

Image: Southside Group’s plan to build this 10-12 storey building on the Orewa beachfront has been frustrated by the Unitary Plan process.


 

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