23 Oct 2012

This is the future

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Written by: Marnie Hallanhan
Published by: Auckland Now | stuff.co.nz – 23 October 2012

HIGH RISE: A possible scenario for Anzac St West. Anzac St runs from top right through the middle of the illustration, joining Pupuke Rd, Taharoto Rd and Barrys Pt Rd.

Neighbourhoods are set to change forever under confidential council plans for huge intensification of Auckland.

For many, the first public insight into council thinking will be the imminent release of a decision on Anzac St West in Takapuna.

Land will be rezoned and the number of existing homes in the suburb will be quadrupled over the next 30 to 40 years.

Today we take a comprehensive look at this plan, council thinking and reaction.

The former North Shore City Council drew up the Anzac St proposal, which includes apartments as small as 35 square metres.

Auckland Council took over the plan, and it is understood little has changed.

But most Aucklanders will have to wait until March before they see plans for other areas.

Deputy mayor Penny Hulse says early talks need to be secret to allow robust talks about things that might never happen.

At least 10,000 submitters are expected to respond to the Unitary Plan that sets out development rules.

The council will listen to residents’ feedback but Auckland must intensify, she says.

“If everyone says ‘no’, where will our children live?”

But Takapuna ratepayers’ representative Colin Andrews was invited to view an early draft on plans for the suburb and was so shocked he’s blown the whistle.

A blueprint for Auckland Council’s vision of an intensified urban North Shore is about to be given the green light in Takapuna.

The Anzac St West Precinct is the first of seven precincts in Takapuna to be given a clear framework for future intensification.

Confirmation of a plan change to allow developments reaching from three to eight storeys in the area is imminent after three years of consultation.

Property expert Bob Dey reported in 2010 that former North Shore City Council planning staff regarded the Anzac St West Precinct as a template for intensification elsewhere on the Shore.

It’s a sentiment that has rolled over into the new super-city council.

But architect Christina van Bohemen of Sills Van Bohemen Architecture, the plan’s design team, reminded councillors at the beginning of the plan change process that careful consideration into liveability was imperative.

“It’s important to think of the precinct as a neighbourhood, it’s not just a numbers game,” Mrs van Bohemen says.

But through the process some hefty numbers have been bandied about. Mr Dey reported that the precinct’s housing numbers could increase from around 174 homes present in 2010 to more than 1000 homes if the precinct were to be fully developed under the proposed provisions.

The area satisfies a number of criteria for urban intensification, including its proximity to central Takapuna and amenities, and the recognition that Anzac St is a prominent gateway for vehicles.

Growth predictions show that the precinct could potentially accommodate 1500 residents, a three to four fold increase in the current residential population as well as around 500 jobs.

To achieve this, a new “Residential 8” zone is proposed under plan change 37, allowing a mixture of apartment and terrace type housing.

Through community consultation it was decided that the best form of development to achieve this would be a “Perimeter Block” development.

A major characteristic of these is their close relationship with the street edge, private space being at the rear.

This was referred to as the “Paris option” in community consultation sessions and was compared with the “Dubai option” – high rise towers, and the “Kiwi Hodgepodge” – individually developed lots running north to south of the precinct.

The proposed minimum unit size is 35 to 45 sq metres for studio and one bedroom units.

This moves up to 90 sq metres for 3 bedroom apartments.

Controls would be reinforced by a condition whereby only 50 per cent of the units in a development may be one bedroom or less.

The maximum height permitted in the area currently is 9 metres, but the plan change seeks to implement a sub-zone layout with four different maximum height allowances.

The more residential areas backing on to Killarney St, Lomond St and Huron St will have height restrictions of between three and four storeys.

However, developments within the four storey sub-zones could be extended up to six storeys through Bonus Provision rules, if a public through-site lane is provided.

Developments built on sub-zones fronting on to Anzac St and sections of Auburn St could reach between six and eight storeys.

Proposed controls to ensure the amenity of the precinct remains include, ensuring minimum standards in respect of outlook space, yards, balconies, landscaping requirements and building separation controls.

The plan change was publicly notified in 2011 and 38 submissions were received covering more than 80 submission points with similar numbers showing support and opposition.

The majority of those who opposed the plans were residents within the precinct who did not want their neighbourhood to drastically change.

Comments such as: “This quiet street doesn’t need hordes of people and cars suddenly thrust upon us” and fears that “the built up area … would be spoiling the way of life that people have and the reason they live where they do” were received by those opposed.

But with Takapuna’s new title as one of Auckland’s seven “Metropolitan centres” development and intensification is inevitable.

Several submitters even asked that more height and “Dubai style” towers be allowed.

The council has until this week to release the plan change in its final form.

But development opportunities for the North Shore’s first major intensification project are already being advertised by real estate agents eager to jump the sales gun.


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