23 Jul 2013

Fletcher asks council for right to build higher

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Written by: Anne Gibson
Photo by Steven McNicholl
Published: The New Zealand Herald – 23 July 2013

Three Kings Quarry.

Three Kings Quarry.

Apartments must be at least five levels to be economically viable, company says.

Fletcher Developments wants new houses to be taller than the Auckland Council is proposing.

Five storeys, or 18m, should be allowed in the new terrace house and apartment zone, instead of four-level or 14.5m buildings, it says. In the less intensive mixed housing zone, Fletcher wants an extra 3.5m in height to 13.5m – although the house-builder says this is just for design purposes, not as an extra level.

Design and construction costs are the main reasons cited for its suggestions.

“For reasons relating to the land area, building cost, parking and the required space within the building for vertical circulation [for example lifts and stairs] and lobbies, apartments of mid to high quality require a minimum of five levels to be economically viable,” said the submission to the draft Unitary Plan from Fletcher Developments general manager Bernie Chote, assisted by planning consultant John Duthie, former Auckland City planning general manager but now of Tattico.

“If the council is to meet its dual objectives of providing for growth through the apartment market and bringing these apartments to market at prices which are relative to housing costs in the area, then five levels will be needed as a minimum for apartments,” the submission said.

The council said feedback to the plan was now being assessed and councillors and local board chairs were having a series of workshops through to early next month to work through potential changes to the plan.

Fletcher wants the height in the mixed housing zone increased from 10m to 13.5m, which Chote said would allow for far better design and a pitched roof, rather than simply a flatter, sloping roof.

“Some concession for roof pitch should be seriously considered. The overall height notification control should be set at 13.5m,” Fletcher said.

It gave overall support to the Unitary Plan and Chote said the proposals gave more certainty to development.

“This is a major step forward for Auckland and will greatly assist the market in dealing with the planning controls and working with the council to manage the demand for housing and business development as Auckland grows,” his submission said.

But many oppose the extra height in the draft proposal.

Auckland 2040, established to oppose the changes, raised what it said were issues about the height of new developments as well as high-density apartments scattered haphazardly throughout 56 per cent of the city’s neighbourhoods, and inadequate planning for roading, public transport, schools, water and sewerage.

The group wants the council to rethink the plan to balance intensification with infrastructure and urban character.

Group member Richard Burton said Auckland should take its lead from elsewhere.

“Building bulk and location rules are highly effective in controlling the bulk, scale and location of buildings. Some of the world’s most beautiful cities have building forms which have evolved due to effective bulk and development controls. Paris has a five- to six-storey height limit. Port Douglas and Noosa in Queensland limit heights to below palm trees,” he said.

He had been at a workshop with Fletcher Building and was unimpressed.

“Judging from their comments, they would like to be able to build anything anywhere without restriction.”

Fletcher Housing projects

* Three Kings Quarry
* Stonefields, Mt Wellington
* Beachlands, southeast Auckland
* Manukau Golf Course

Source: Fletcher Building



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