Archive | Isthmus west

Eden-Epsom recreation area options

Development options for the Eden-Epsom recreation area will be displayed at Melville Park Pavilion from 14 March.

The recreation area comprises 3 local parks – Windmill, Melville & Nicholson Parks. Open space areas around the Auckland College of Education, Auckland Normal Intermediate School and Kohia Terrace Primary School will also be taken into consideration. Submissions close on 29 March.
Eden-Epsom recreation area web page:

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Redwood gets non-notified hearing for 56 units off Dominion Rd

Planning consent, 26 July 2002:

Mt Eden, 6 Ewington Rd, Auckland city Council’s regulatory & fixtures sub-committee granted Redwood Group Ltd (Tony Gapes) non-notified hearing for an application to build 56 residential units in the business 2 zone.

The development covers 3922m² off Dominion & Ewington Rds, backing on to the Valley Rd Foodtown supermarket. Redwood plans to build 46 2-beddies & 10 1-beddies.

The proposal includes building 2 storeys on an existing block of retail units over which Redwood has air rights, plus construction on vacant land. Basement parking will be provided for 84 cars. There would be a courtyard between the 2 structures.

A transport designation through the western side of the site will not be affected by the building. Among consent considerations will be a 28-space parking shortfall, stacked parking, development within 30m of a residential zone, earthworks and removal of a generally protected tree.

General Distributors Ltd (a subsidiary of Foodtown chain parent Progressive Enterprises Ltd) applied for consent in 1999 to establish a 104-unit residential development, but that consent was withdrawn in 2000.

Click to return to Auckland City consent activity 26 July 2002

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Momo conversion allowed but closing time cut, new Mt Albert restaurant allowed

Planning consent, 2 August 2002:

Mt Albert, 930 New North Rd, Auckland City Council’s regulatory & fixtures sub-committee granted Hatsy Investments Ltd (Lai Hong, also director of Dynasty Restaurant Ltd) non-notified hearing the previous week & resource consent this week to convert the Momo Tea Café into a tavern, but cut back the closing time from 2am to 1am Friday & Saturday nights.

The café (previously occupied by the Highway 51 Café) in a 286m² building in the Mt Albert shopping strip, is used mainly by Chinese students attending Unitec.

Consultant planner Michelle Cooper said of the closing hours, “We thought 2 wasn’t too much later than 1.” If the application had been for 3am, though, the recommendation might have been to knock it back.

Cllr Graeme Mulholland said the committee had restricted most other applicants to a 1am closing time. “It’s not just the noise on the premises. It’s shutting doors, just the noise associated with that,” he said, in recommending the earlier close.

Committee chairman Cllr Juliet Yates said “protecting suburban amenity” had to be considered. “If there are no adverse effects the applicant can always come back for a variation.”

The tavern’s hours will be 11.30am-1am Sunday-Thursday, and 11.30-1am Friday-Saturday.

Mt Albert, 1091 New North Rd, the committee granted M Sanati non-notified hearing & resource consent for a new 77m² restaurant within an existing building, plus 13m² of outdoor seating area, and allowed a closing time of 11.30pm 7 days.

When Cllr Bill Christian asked if planning staff were happy with the hours, Ms Cooper said they were considered as part of her assessment. Maximum number of people onsite would be 24 — 22 staff, 16 customers inside & 6 outside.

Click to return to Auckland City consent activity 2 August 2002

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Update: New Kingsland café

Planning consent, 16 August 2002:

Kingsland, 460A New North Rd, Auckland City Council’s regulatory & fixtures sub-committee granted M Tredicucci resource consent for a café/restaurant in an existing retail tenancy. Non-notified hearing of the application was granted on 2 August.

Planning consent, 2 August 2002:

Kingsland, 460A New North Rd, Auckland City Council’s regulatory & fixtures sub-committee granted M Tredicucci, Taupo, non-notified hearing for an application to turn a retail tenancy into a café/restaurant.

The café is in a 341m² building at the start of a small cul-de-sac in the Kingsland shopping strip and is zoned business 2. It’s 1 block past the busy Bond St intersection, which crosses over to Sandringham Rd & Eden Park. The Kingsland railway station is immediately below the shopping strip.

The building has no onsite parking, resulting in a 13-space shortfall, but parking 2 minutes up the road would be leased.

Cllr Graeme Mulholland expressed concern for residents living above shops, and for those in the immediate neighbourhood. But council planner Gail Lorier said the café was in a zone where such activity was permitted, and the nearest residentially zoned land was 50m away.

And principal planner Tania Richmond added: “Persons who choose to live in the business zone have to accept a lower level of amenity.”

Click to return to Auckland City consent activity 16 August 2002

Click to return to Auckland City consent activity 2 August 2002

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Keystone Ridge back in Environment Court

Three months on, opposition evidence resumes

Two years after being publicly notified and just over three months after it first sauntered into a courtroom hearing, Keystone Ridge was back in the Environment Court today for a resumption of opposition evidence about the Kitchener Group development.

And, despite the acknowledged irrelevance of frequent portions of evidence from Barrie Paterson of the Keystone Watch Group, Environment Judge Gordon Whiting allowed it to flow on.

Kitchener director David Henderson is determined to pursue his project — 66 apartments and a gym in three buildings up to five storeys high (plus basement parking) on the old 3 Guys site in Keystone Ave, Mt Roskill — though the long delay and cost of court time are destroyers of this kind of development.

The apartments were all sold three years ago by City Sales, which has to wait for its commission until the project gets past deposit stage.

Developer looked for prime revitalisation sites

Mr Henderson told the court in August he looked for locations in or near transport routes in Mt Roskill and Mt Albert that were likely to enjoy some revitalisation, and found this one behind the Mt Roskill shopping centre, a few steps back from Dominion Rd, and with the local primary school between it and Mt Albert Rd.

This site is in the Dominion Rd transport corridor, prime territory for more intensive development under regional growth forum guidelines.

At the August hearing, Mr Henderson told Mr Paterson, who had been asked to draw up a better design: “The reality is that your idea of changing the third block didn’t work.”

Sewerage was a particular local concern, but at the August hearing Mr Paterson got into convoluted discussion on items such as the roof design, parking and rubbish collection.

“At one stage we thought we’d got through all the issues, but every time we thought we’d got it sorted out there were further issues,” Mr Henderson said.

Special hearing held to sort evidence

Between the August hearing and today, the court called a special sitting to iron out what evidence Mr Paterson would give. Even so, Kitchener’s counsel, Richard Brabant, questioned the third-party evidence being offered as Mr Paterson got into his brief.

Mr Paterson referred to a report by a council officer who hadn’t been called to give evidence, and had more evidence of that nature sprinkled through his brief.

Mr Brabant: “He’s bounced off what other people have said.”

Said Judge Whiting: “It’s an unusual way to do it. It takes it beyond putting his evidence in context, introduces evidence.”

Mr Paterson: “I thought we’d resolved it. I could have subpoenaed these witnesses, I agreed not to. The full report of Mike Watson’s [the council officer he’d referred to] is in my evidence.”

This is not the way things are done in court, but many people front up in the Environment Court without legal representation or in grand ignorance of process and procedure. The Environment Court responds by generally giving greater latitude to lay people representing themselves or a group, as Mr Paterson is doing (he’s doing both).

Judge draws line but doesn’t stop rambling

Today, Judge Whiting drew one line on that latitude, then allowed the ramblings to continue. Acknowledging the impropriety of the way the council officer’s report was introduced as evidence, Judge Whiting said: “The weight given to it is very little, if any at all.

“We’ve got wide powers and I’m going to exercise those powers and allow it to be admitted.” The judge then again told Mr Paterson the limited value of his evidence because the writer of the report was not available to be cross-examined.”

After Mr Brabant said he’d struck no deal on subpoenas and Wendy Embling, for the council, said she’d had discussion with Mr Paterson on two officers’ evidence, Mr Paterson resumed his references to the report that had brought the objections.

Next up, I don’t like your design…

He then took up the Italian villa architectural style, saying it was not common in the neighbourhood.

Judge Whiting told him the court had heard evidence from the project architect, associate architecture professor Clinton Bird, a landscape architect, all of whom had been available for cross-examination. “It’s very difficult for us to have much regard to the [council officer’s] report. You see our difficulty?”

Mr Paterson didn’t. Picking up on style, he said “I don’t intend to emphasise it [but the writer] is a council officer. It [criticism of the style] is in this report.”

This costs time and money, but judge lets it roll on

Mr Henderson’s comment to me in August that this court process would cost him $350,000, not including interest and not including the November extension, came back to me as Mr Brabant told the court: “We’re getting into review of the district plan and we’re also going to be here a long time with all his extra comments.”

He asked for evidence that focused on a resource consent application, not a plan review, and believed the court should not all evidence on architecture and design that had not been put to his witnesses.

“Producing all this is not going to advance a worthwhile decision, is going to add greatly to hearing time. This hearing should concentrate on the appeal site. This evidence should be ruled out.”

Judge Whiting: “I’m not going to rule it out. I take your point that the relevance is extremely tenuous, but I’m not going to go through Mr Paterson’s evidence with a scalpel and cut and paste around. Let’s get on with it.”

Mr Paterson moved from that to the historical position, referring to the district plan of the Mt Borough District Council, now incorporated in Auckland City, which Mr Brabant said the court not legally give regard to.

Getting down to site-specific detail, Mr Paterson said the Keystone Ridge development would give 95.6% concrete and asphalt ground cover: “This is a stark contrast and hardly an environmentally friendly interface or buffer.

“The development proposal effectively mortgages neighbouring landscaping and streetscape. The developer has not adapted the proposal to the constraints of the site… A dominant structure is likely to result.”

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Update: Urban Jungle Café gets consent

Planning consent, 16 August 2002:

Grey Lynn, 571 Great North Rd, Auckland City Council’s regulatory & fixtures sub-committee granted the Urban Jungle Café Ltd (Rebecca So’e) non-notified hearing & resource consent to extend its operating hours after deferring the application on 26 July to clarify operating hours in the area and discovering the nearby Occam Café can open 24 hours/day 7 days/week.

Councillors worry about operating hours at edge of busy junction

Planning consent, 26 July 2002:

Grey Lynn, 571 Great North Rd, Auckland City Council’s regulatory & fixtures sub-committee granted non-notified hearing but deferred a decision on Urban Jungle Café Ltd (Rebecca So’e)’s resource consent application to extend its operating hours.

The café is in a new Sterling Nominees Ltd (Michael & Jason Friedlander) building which has 5 residential units upstairs. The 908m² property is in a triangle between Selbourne St & Surrey Cres, faces Great North Rd as it swings down Chinaman’s Hill, from Grey Lynn to Western Springs, and is on the edge of the Grey Lynn shops, which include numerous cafés, restaurants, takeaways, video shops and a 24-hour Foodtown supermarket a block away, on the Williamson Ave-Coleridge St corner.

The 100m² café (plus 35m² outdoor seating) opens daily at 8am and sought to extend its 5.30pm Monday-Friday closing hours to stay open until 11pm Monday-Thursday, midnight Friday-Sunday. It might have got through if a neighbouring café didn’t have a closing time half an hour earlier.

Committee chairman, Cllr Juliet Yates, felt the committee should consider residents, and the effects of street noise at midnight on a Sunday.

Cllr Bill Christian asked: “Why they need this Sunday late trading, that’s what I want to know.”

And so the consent application was deferred for consultant planner Anna Sinnott to clarify hours in the area before closing hours are imposed on the café — perhaps complete with an answer for Cllr Christian that the café has Sunday-night customers who don’t all work 9-5 and feel obliged to go home when it gets dark.

Click to return to Auckland City consent activity 16 August 2002

Click to return to Auckland City consent activity 26 July 2002

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Kitchener loses Keystone judgment

Environment Court favours the little guy in setback for “liveable communities” agenda

Kitchener Group director David Henderson had experts galore on hand to convince the Environment Court his company should get resource consent for an apartment development on the ridge at the western end of Dominion Rd.

And he had council support for the project, which would be built on the former 3 Guys supermarket site on Keystone Ave, Mt Roskill, at the southern extremity of the Dominion Rd strategic growth management area created in Auckland City Council’s urban design code for liveable communities 2050.

Against him was architect Barrie Paterson, who lives across the road and runs his business from his home, and Mr Paterson’s son Neville, a civil engineer. Together, the Patersons were the voice of the Keystone Watch Group — not opposed to development in its entirety, but opposed to the bulk of what they saw would be built in a single-level suburban street just off the Mt Roskill shopping strip where it meets Mt Albert Rd.

Lost “hands down,” will appeal

“Unfortunately the judgment went against us — we lost hands down. We’re going to appeal,” Mr Henderson said this week after receiving the judgment by Environment Judge Gordon Whiting, who sat on the case for five days in August and another three in November last year with Environment Commissioners JR Dart and RF Gapes.

When the hearing was supposed to run for just 3½ days in August, Mr Henderson figured it would cost him $100,000. “There’s not a lot of margin in this. This process will cost me $350,000, and that’s not including interest.”

In the chicken-and-egg process of getting developments under way, the 66 proposed Keystone Ridge units were sold in 1997, before consent was granted. The project received its consent, the Patersons appealed, and so the process staggers on.

Not coherent, but the laymen won

The speed of hearing wasn’t helped by the inability of the Patersons to present coherent questions, statements or case, something which lay petitioners to the courts can struggle with because of unfamiliarity with the processes.

The rambling nature of Paterson Sr’s evidence and cross-examination led Kitchener’s counsel, Richard Brabant, at one point to suggest the court was being taken on a long review of the district plan, complete with discourse on housing styles, instead of dealing with an appeal on specific issues.

But, said Judge Whiting, “I’m not going to rule it out (Mr Paterson’s evidence relating to matters not put to Kitchener witnesses). I take your point that the relevance is extremely tenuous, but I’m not going to go through Mr Paterson’s evidence with a scalpel and cut and paste it. Let’s get on with it.”

An unfriendly interface

The Patersons are both persistent, determined to get their point across no matter how long it takes. And so Mr Paterson Sr continued, in November, notching up some key points.

“This site [the development proposal, which Kitchener wants to build on the old supermarket base, pictured right] is 95.6% concrete and asphalt. This is a stark contrast and hardly an environmentally friendly interface or buffer.

“The development proposal effectively mortgages neighbouring landscaping and streetscaping. The developer hasn’t adapted the proposal to the constraints of the site… A dominant structure is likely to result.”

The ruling, which Judge Whiting seems to have completed over the court’s summer break, deals primarily, but in many ways, with the issue of the interface/buffer between business zones/highrise housing and traditional single-storey villas.

Interface rules on the way

The city council would have set down rules on this issue in variation 164 to its district plan, notified in 1997 but withdrawn so it wouldn’t hold up implementation of the whole new plan. That variation was replaced by change 3 to the new plan, notified in November 1999.

Hearings were conducted in December and the plan change is due to go to the full council in February for consideration. The plan change, as proposed, would apply additional controls at the interface, making any activity within 30m of a residential zone a restricted discretionary activity and imposing a more restrictive rule on building in relation to boundary.

So in dealing with buffer rules, the court was working in a vacuum, although the judge noted that the Kitchener site was within the 30m, and would breach the boundary rule by 150mm along 6.75m of frontage.

The court chose not to deal with each resource consent application (height, streetscape, earthworks, excavation, parking, stacked parking, access) one at a time, but comprehensively, so if one part is non-complying the whole proposed use would be seen as non-complying.

Judge notes how lawyers changed stance

Judge Whiting accepted a submission from Mr Paterson Sr — on the importance of having regard to the cumulative effect of non-compliance — and noted how Mr Brabant changed his stance, from opening by saying the whole proposal required consent as a discretionary activity, to closing by saying the consents could be dealt with separately and the primary consent application for residential units would properly be considered as a restricted controlled activity.

The judge noted a similar change in stance by counsel for the city counsel, Wendy Embling, commenting that it was an understandable shift because it could limit the scope of the consent authorities, and the court’s discretion.

Parking issues, versus changing transport infrastructure

Some of the issues before the court have been dealt with inadequately elsewhere, making them more contentious than they might have been — parking is one, sewerage and stormwater infrastructure are others.

Parking and stacked parking are contentious issues on which views change, but on which rules tend to be set. Auckland City Council made drastic changes to inner-city parking rules in its proposed new central area plan, aimed at getting more people on to public transport although the infrastructure is not anywhere near being in place.

The rules for a block of flats like Keystone Ridge state that every unit should have two parking spaces, but in this case there is a 27-space shortfall. As well, some of the spaces are stacked, which means shuffling to get the rear car out or you remarkably manage to drive in and out in the correct order. The court found the internal parking and manoeuvring arrangements unsatisfactory for so many units.

But if the campaign for a better public transport structure was genuinely moving forwards, the court would by now be able to recognise that many of those parking spaces should not be needed because many of the intending residents would prefer the ease of catching a bus or light rail vehicle the short distance to the city centre.

The infrastructure campaign is moving forward, with a bus priority lane in place, but getting light rail down Dominion Rd may be a long and hard battle, even if it is in one of the city’s priority strategic management areas.

Infrastructure worries and population growth plans

And although engineering evidence satisfied Judge Whiting that the Keystone Ridge system for dealing with stormwater and sewage would handle its task, the Patersons and others hold serious concerns about the public systems’ capacity in their area, because of local peculiarities.

Those concerns would not be lessened by the “liveable communities 2050” proposition that the population in the strategic management area should double in the next 50 years, while the $169 million for upgrading drainage is on the beyond-2020 budget.

Another issue which should have put the Environment Court hearing in context is the demographic change which planners have in mind, courtesy of zoning allowances and development by people such as Kitchener’s Mr Henderson: population along this Dominion Rd strip up from 10,400 now to 19,700 in 2050.

This is to be achieved at the same rate per household as the area has now (the “liveable communities” draft shows an occupation ratio of 2.8 persons in the next 50 years’ batch of 3311 homes, compared to 2.75 for the existing 3786).

Over the whole country the ratio has been steadily declining towards 3/household. The Keystone Ridge proposal, however, is the kind which would reduce the ratio more sharply — the proposal is for 15 two-bedroom units, 36 one-bedroom units and 15 studios — and therefore require a denser level of construction to house the anticipated population growth.

Need to look closely at construction styles

If small households are the way of the future, the Australian standard three-floor walkup (above three levels a lift is required in Australia, but not here) could perform a vital role, increasing population density while not causing dominance by individual structures.

An alternative is for construction of occasional larger blocks. Keystone Ridge would be something of a mix: 3-4 storeys above the supermarket basement, a low ratio of persons/household, a household density ratio of 1:39m² land area in three apartment blocks compared to a minimum 1:375m² in the traditional suburban residential 6a zone.

Whatever the mix of buildings to house the population increase, the buffer between high and low remains an issue and was, as Judge Whiting noted, at the heart of this appeal.

Amenity: Does it mean isolation?

The word is amenity, one of those terms like sustainable management which planners toss around joyfully and nobody seems to understand. The pleasantness, as the Oxford dictionary describes amenity, of your neighbourhood might mean having a lot of people about you if you’re Chinese or Italian. In New Zealand, it means keeping all those Chinese, Italians, and any other potential trespasser or voyeur not just over the fence but out of earshot.

At this point, the judge has two courses he can follow, and he can justify either one.

He could have decided to support the proposal, gone through all the lesser elements of the consents and agreed with them, perhaps with a quibble here or there, and found that around the rest of the world a residential building of a mere four storeys, with balconies (1m deep, he calls them decks) not designed for spending time on, is not going to disturb too much privacy.

He could have found the city council was keen to support higher density and that, across the Auckland isthmus, the council wants amenity in future to include living more closely together. That would have taken a small leap, because the city council and the Auckland Regional Council have presented their strategies without yet getting down to the specifics of what it means in every neighbourhood.

Designed beyond site’s potential

Judge Whiting went with the Patersons’ view that “the proposal has been designed beyond the potential of the site.

“The effect of this, the appellant says, is that the bulk, height and density of the proposal has an overpowering effect on the residential amenities [not amenity] of the residential 6a zone located to the east and north of the site.

“Further, the effects on visual and oral [later, the judgment uses the word aural] privacy to the north and east are considerable, as is the effect on parking and traffic congestion in Keystone Ave.

“The numerous conditions the consent was made subject to will it [the appellant, Keystone Watch Group] says not sufficiently mitigate or avoid these adverse effects.

“The non-compliance of the development controls are in each case not of relevant significance on their own says the appellant but their combined effect reflects an over development of the site.” I think this sentence is getting back to Mr Paterson Sr’s reference to cumulative effects, but without an explanatory kit I may have got it wrong.

Dominance is bad

Judge Whiting said this of the proposed apartment development’s appearance: “We have concluded that the visual effect of the building will be quite significant and the form of the building will be dominant in the streetscape, thus adversely affecting the amenity of this residential neighbourhood.”

What the judge says is that dominance is an adverse effect. Where would a beautiful, acclaimed, admired but large structure fit into the New Zealand landscape? It couldn’t, if it is bigger than its neighbours.

“We find that the surrounding properties will be considerably impacted by lack of privacy. This will be exacerbated by a number of factors including the following:

The height of the buildings above the predominantly single-storey dwellings;

The design of the proposal which includes decks [1m deep by 7m wide, the kind which expand the feel of the interior but can’t be used as a deck for entertainment] facing outwards from the north and east sides of the site [the north is to the street];

The intensity of the development. The density of the proposal is approximately 39m² per unit as compared to the residential 6a density of 375m² per unit.The last of these reasons, preposterous as it is without any explanation of how density in itself equates to removal of privacy, is a clincher for opponents of greater residential density.

If density automatically removes privacy, how are these strategic management areas ever going to gain greater population?

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Rippin buys Richmond Rd site

Land value $578/m²

Grey Lynn, 562 Richmond Rd, the 4500m² site & buildings at the Surrey Crescent end has been bought by Markham Group Ltd (Pat Rippin) for $2.6 million for redevelopment. Previous owners were Gary & Sheralyn Butler. The sale was through Chris Drumm & Colin McKenna (CB Richard Ellis).

The property will be redeveloped into residential units, with a basic land value of $578/m². Current rent is $220,000.

Mr Rippin has carried out a lot of residential development in Mangere and, in July, joined First City Developments Ltd (Colin Godfrey & Grant McKenzie) in getting consent for 2 towers containing 510 apartments, to be built on the old Public Service garage site at the foot of Greys Avenue.

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Bronze Goat to become Pog Mahones

Planning consent, 20 September 2002:

Ponsonby, 108 Ponsonby Rd, Auckland City Council’s regulatory & fixtures sub-committee granted Pog Mahones (Ponsonby) Ltd (Brian Collins & Roy Thompson, Dunedin, also Pog Mahones International Ltd, Alexandra, and Frenzi Investment Group Ltd; Mr Thompson is also director of Wakatipu Air Leasing Ltd) non-notified hearing & resource consent to convert the Bronze Goat restaurant into a tavern, still with restaurant facilities.

The 2-storey building, owned by Samson Corp Ltd (Michael & Jason Friedlander), has been a restaurant since 1977. Bronze Goat Restaurant Ltd (Patrick & Millicant O’Reilly) was established in 1982.

The Pog Malones themed Irish tavern will have dining/bar and garden on the ground level, toilets, kitchen, function bar for up to 50 people upstairs. The first-floor deck at the rear will be demolished in the conversion.

The tavern will operate 7 days, 10am-2am.

Click to return to Auckland City consent activity 20 September 2002

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