10 Apr 2013

Letter from Howick Local Board chairman

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Published: Eastern Courier – 10 April 2013

Letter from Howick Local Board chairman, Michael Williams:

I am very worried about the proposed Unitary Plan.

I am particularly concerned that vast swathes of Howick, Pakuranga and Botany are being zoned “Mixed Housing”, an innocuous name that means you can build one dwelling per 300 square metres as of right or as many dwellings as you like on properties greater than 1200sqm if you meet proposed design guidelines, which have not yet been released. This is a recipe for dreadful infill development where every back yard in the area will have a house built in it.

I recommend that all residents access the Auckland Council e-plan internet tool to find out what the new zoning is for their property.

I believe that the Howick Local Board and our community should advocate for an “overlay” for our area requiring a 9m rear yard setback (no new building within 9m of the rear boundary) and a minimum section size of 300sqm for a new dwelling and 500sqm for an existing dwelling. These zoning changes would ensure that we retain some of our leafy suburban characteristics such as trees, grass, kids’ play areas, barbecue areas and indoor-outdoor living.

I am concerned about the Ormiston Flat Bush area. At the last minute, the Auckland Council has decided to throw out the recently finalised Plan Change 20 which achieved the very sensible result of 325sqm sites with a 9m rear yard setback which achieves both intensification and leafy suburban amenity. We must retain the 9m setback.

In respect of Howick Village, we have made good progress in negotiating the removal of the proposed Terraced and Apartment zone from the seaward / heritage side, the reinstatement of the residential heritage zone via an overlay and the reinstatement of the 12.5m height limit in the village. No doubt many people will want to use the submission process to push back further on the Terraced and Apartment zoning on the western side.

I support an idea of Steve Udy, to reduce height limits around our coastal edge, including Kentigern Close, to ensure that views and coastal amenity are not lost or privatised.

I am writing this letter because many on the board do not favour taking a proactive leadership approach and have not supported my proposal to ask planners to evaluate ideas to lessen the negative impacts of the the unitary plan on our East Auckland Lifestyle. Therefore I would encourage you to come along to the four public input sessions we are running and make a submission to ensure that your voice is heard.

I want to make it clear that the Howick Local Board is not driving this process but merely seeking community feedback to inform our response to it. I also want to make it clear that I am not the local board’s spokesman on the Unitary Plan, that is the role of David Collings, the Portfolio Leader for Unitary Planning.

Unfortunately the Howick Local Board is very under-gunned in terms of resources and capacity to properly communicate with the public or to develop an effective response to the issues arising from the Unitary Plan but I will personally continue to push hard to ensure that the best possible outcome is achieved in the circumstances.

We must ensure a balance between making room for our children and grandchildren to live while retaining something of the lifestyle, culture, environment and heritage built up in this area over generations.

Michael Williams
Howick Local Board Chairman


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