About Us


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.

We agree that the best outcome is a clear set of rules in the Unitary Plan and to that end we met with Mayor Len Brown to ask for regional stakeholder status and a significant, on-going role in the development of the plan.

The Mayor has agreed to our request. The first step in the process was a workshop for members of the Coalition, facilitated by Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse and attended by Council officers and other Councillors. At this meeting it was decided that the Coalition would continue to have input during the next six months.

We would like as many organisations as possible to be represented at these meeting so that the voices of all Aucklanders can be heard. We believe that a wide representation from all areas of Auckland will give us the best chance of having what we want included in the plan and the more sway we will have now and in the future.

Click here to help or Support the Character Coalition

The Coalition has no formal structure of its own. All member groups retain their own structures and purposes and these are not affected by membership of the Coalition. There is no commitment to belonging and a group can withdraw at any time. The purpose is at this stage is focused on the Unitary Plan and ensuring proper protection of character and heritage. A broad view of character and heritage is taken by the Coalition and it encompasses the physical environment as well as built heritage.

The Super City Unitary Plan presents us with a once in a lifetime chance to get the treatment of heritage and character right. The Auckland Plan’s objectives include empowering Aucklanders to have stewardship of heritage, transparent mechanisms around it, and a legacy of heritage to hand on to future generations.

But without a step change in the approach, the combination of upzoning, intensification, seismic upgrade and the patterns of the past will see major loss of our finite heritage and character stock over time.

If we don’t do something different, we won’t achieve different outcomes, heritage will continue to be a battleground and we will not achieve the outcome that we all want which is a vibrant, go-ahead, liveable city that values its past and makes it part of the future.

The Character Coalition’s “bottom lines”

Following the model of the Brisbane Plan as a starting point and in order to protect character and heritage in Auckland the following provisions must be included in the Unitary Plan:

  • Interim blanket demolition controls on pre 1940’s buildings – where the case for demolition has to be proven, rather than at present where the case for retention must be made.
  • All demolitions of pre-1940’s buildings require consent and must be publicly notified.
  • Any replacement building must satisfy a design code, requiring sympathetic design, scale and materials to be used.
  • Local Plans to recognise differing characteristics and issues of each area, to ensure private and public sector development proposals are consistent with local aspirations. Regarding development proposals, Local Plans can change and raise conditions of compliance, public notification requirements, and other standards.
  • Adequate council resources to be allocated to the identification and assessment of heritage and character of an area, as the local Area Plans are completed, and BEFORE intensification rules are applied to an area.
  • Adequate budgets and resources applied within council to build up an experienced and knowledgeable heritage department.
  • Continuing engagement with interested community groups on how to best preserve our heritage.

We must not miss this opportunity to have a say on our future city, so we urge you to write to your Councillor now. Use the on the Auckland Council feedback form or leave a comment on one of the blogposts, or Facebook page, or Tweet @aklcouncil using the hashtag #shapeauckland.

Wayne Brittenden’s Counterpoint: Auckland Heritage

Wayne Brittenden takes a critical look at the reality of heritage, Auckland style. Chris subsequently speaks with Waitemata and Gulf councillor Mike Lee, and Brisbane conservation architect Peter Marquis-Kyle.
Listen to here: Radio New Zealand National, from Sunday Morning on 14 October 2012

A simple guide to Brisbane’s heritage places and character homes.

In Brisbane, only places listed in the City Plan Heritage Register or the State Government’s Queensland Heritage Register (or both) have legal protection. These registers are assembled and managed separately but have similar criteria.
Click here to view ” A simple guide to Brisbane’s heritage places and character homes. (as a PDF 1.93MB)

Presentation to Auckland Plan Committee July 3rd 2012

The Character Coalition had an opportunity to speak to the Auckland Plan Committee, where we outlined four main mechanisms we believe should be in the Unitary Plan.
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. Continue …

Character Coalition represented at the Unitary Plan Launch

20130315 Character Coalition represented at the Unitary Plan Launch210Sally Hughes represented the Character Coalition on the Heritage and Character Panel at the Unitary Plan launch on Friday 15th at the Viaduct Events Centre. Sally expressed disappointment that the Council had not gone far enough to protect heritage in the draft Unitary Plan and challenged the Council to make a bold policy decision such as the one made by Brisbane in the 1990s. She also spoke about the importance of public notification to allow communities to have input into planning decisions.