24 May 2013

Residents doubt council

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Written by: Karina Abadia
Published: Auckland Now / East & Bays Courier – 24 May 2013

Fears that the council has misled the public over whether the draft unitary plan mixed housing zone allows for two or three storeys are unfounded, deputy mayor Penny Hulse says.

“If we wanted to hide information, we wouldn’t have had this engagement process,” she says.

In the draft unitary plan, as is the case at the moment, people can build two storeys of up to eight metres as a right.

But if they want to go up to 10 metres to allow for a pitched roof, a basement or to build another level, they must go through a resource consent process, she says.

The application would need to meet strict criteria to make sure the building did not dominate the next door property or shade the neighbouring house or yard.

It would also need to be in keeping with the character of the neighbourhood, council planning manager Penny Pirrit says.

The historic character overlay which will apply to land currently zoned residential 1, 2 and 3 means an additional character assessment criteria will play a part in the application.

“The historic character overlay trumps height,” Ms Hulse says.

“It would be pretty tough to exceed height limits in an area where there is a character overlay.

“But remember that some of our beautiful heritage villas are 10 metres high, so we don’t want people to have to remove their peak roofs. We are trying to have a genuine conversation with the community. It’s good to explore the worst case scenario, but on the other hand I’m a little bit perplexed by the fact that suddenly three storeys is so terrifying.”

She says if you drive around suburbs like Epsom and Remuera you will see some beautiful three-storey homes.

St Heliers-Glendowie residents association chairman Keith Savory still says the council has been less than honest.

“All the printed material and the four meetings I attended talked about the height limit being 8m or two storeys. It’s not surprising members of the public feel they have been misled.”

He would like any applications for an extension on the 8m limit to be notified.

“At least the neighbours would be aware of it and they could make a submission.”

Save Our St Heliers chairwoman Sally Hughes says the rule on the process was not made clear.

“The message all along has been 8m with no qualification. An incident like this undermines the trust between the council and the community yet again.”

Ms Hughes, who is also the spokeswoman for the Character Coalition, says she is not completely confident about whether the historic character provision will remain in the plan.

As with all aspects of the draft unitary plan, the council asks people to give feedback on whether they are happy for this to remain a non-notified activity, Ms Hulse says.

Go to shapeauckland.co.nz.

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