Presentation to Auckland Plan Committee July 3rd 2012

Thank you for this opportunity to speak to you about the future of Auckland. We are here representing an Auckland-wide coalition of groups and individuals who care deeply about their city. The following are part of the coalition so far:

Mission Bay/Kohimarama Resident Association
Western Bays Community Group
Save Our St Heliers
Parnell Heritage
Herne Bay Residents Association
The Civic Trust
Titirangi Residents and Ratepayers
Herne Bay residents Association
Silverdale and Districts Historical Society
Devonport Heritage
Orakei Residents Association
Northcote Residents Association
Eden Park Neighbours
Mt Roskill Historical Society
Freemans Bay Residents Association
St Heliers/Glendowie Residents Association
Kinder House Society

More are likely to join and a number of groups have the support of their Local Boards.

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.

We acknowledge the steps taken last week by the Regional Development and Operations Committee to strengthen the planning process regarding protection of Auckland’s character and heritage – it’s heading in the right direction.

We agree with Mayor Brown that the best outcome is a clear set of rules in the Unitary Plan, and this is what we’re here to talk about today.

The measures outlined in our paper have been distilled from our research into what worked to protect Brisbane’s character. Brisbane, another super city, experienced in the 1990s the same problems as Auckland – rising population and land values driving destruction – and adopted mechanisms to halt continuing heritage loss.

There are four main mechanisms we believe should be in the Unitary Plan:

LOCAL PLANS

  • Engaging communities in determining planning and design outcomes for their area
  • Recognising differing characteristics/issues of each area, ensure public and private development is consistent with local aspirations
  • Critically, can override the city plan to impose tighter conditions for notification and development.

 
DEMOLITION CONTROL PRECINCTS

  • To maintain character of pre-war streetscapes controlling demolition, alteration and removal – all demolitions to require consent, be publicly notified
  • Residential Design/Character Building Code requiring in-style design/materials for alterations/replacements.

 
COMMERCIAL CHARACTER BUILDING CODE

  • To facilitate retention, adaptive re-use of smaller buildings that trace city’s commercial history and contribute to character
  • Rules for demolition/alteration similar to those for character houses
  • Relaxed compliance rules for range of uses to foster adaptive re-use

 
HERITAGE CODE

  • Overhauled scheduling process, including ongoing research of city’s built environment and updating of inventory
  • Recognition/protection of heritage/character precincts or enclaves
  • Tight controls on demolition, alteration and nearby development
  • Incentives scheme to foster retention including rates relief, grants for maintenance/restoration, awards, grants from a heritage lottery.

 
ALSO, a change is needed to recognise:

  • It’s not just about individual buildings, but groups of buildings and features that have collective value
  • It’s not just about perceived architectural merit, or a system of arbitrary numerical evaluation
  • The value of buildings comes from their contribution to people’s sense of place and how they connect communities to their own story.

 
FINALLY, to help level the playing field under the RMA:

  • Effects-based law favours those able to pay for persuasive expert opinion
  • Establish a city fund for use when the threshold of 100 objections to an application is reached, giving objectors access to costly expert opinion.

In conclusion, the Coalition looks forward to being part of the process to develop the plan and help create a liveable city that respects it’s history, values its heritage and allows its citizens to be truly involved in the development of their built environment.

We won’t have a liveable city unless the Unitary Plan adopts a regulatory framework that reflects a meaningful shift in the planning culture of the Auckland Council.