Archive | Neighbourhoods

Mt Albert karaoke gets notified

Planning consent, 31 May 2002:

Mt Albert, 935a New North Rd, Auckland City Council’s planning fixtures sub-committee decided to notify the application of United Entertainment Ltd (Wang Hui & Zhang Xiaojie Sarah) to turn a basement in the Mt Albert shopping strip, across the tracks from the Mt Albert railway station, into a karaoke bar.

The applicant required resource consent to establish a tavern within the business 2 zone, and a waiver for the 7-space parking shortfall was discretionary.

But committee chairman Cllr Juliet Yates took a step backwards in the committee’s consideration: “It is a concern to put a large tavern in a previously dry area without any community consultation. Potential adverse effects would be from traffic & extended hours of operation.”

Cllr Bill Christian supported her: “There’s a possibility the effects will be greater than minor, not at all helped by the hours, 8pm-2am, 7 days.”

Strong Chinese flavour

In justifying notification, Cllr Yates added: “We’re not convinced the effects will be no more than de minimis. It’s not possible to tell which persons may be affected by the activity & potential effects from traffic movement & extended hours of operation.”

The property owner since 1991 is Dinesh Investments Ltd (Dinu Dinesh), but the shopping strip has a strong Chinese flavour now, with a Vietnamese restaurant in the centre of it as well.

The karaoke applicant wants to convert a 386m² basement, used now for storage, into 3 private karaoke rooms, a bar, screen/stage & kitchen.

The council’s planning consultant, Bridget Boyes, said in her report the building was surrounded by small retail businesses such as dairies, takeaways, an internet station &, immediately above, a gift shop facing a slip road off New North Rd.

Curious reasoning

The councillors’ reasoning for deciding to notify the application is doubly curious — first, that they should take the previous dry era into account, when the vote in favour of allowing licensed premises must tell them that new thinking is in force.

And secondly, concern about night-time noise at the heart of a business strip, which is in the middle of a council-designated strategic growth management area, raises a serious question about the ability of the planning specialists among the city’s councillors to envisage the more intensive development around transport nodes — such as Mt Albert railway station — required if the council’s liveable communities 2050 strategy is to be put into effect.

The liveable communities document adopted by the council 2 years ago shows the western strategic growth management area — running from Newmarket through Newton, Kingsland & Morningside to Mt Albert, then on to Avondale and out to Blockhouse Bay — would grow from a total population of 46,000 in 1996 to 96,000 in 2050.

While the document lacks detail on each suburb in the western growth area, it refers to overall growth there from 17,000 households to 34,000, reduction of average residential occupancy from 1:700m² to 1:350m², or an increase in net density from 14 residential units/ha to 29 units/ha.

Mt Albert & Kingsland are the last suburbs on the western growth area liveable community plan list, with both programmed for 2004-06.

Click to return to Auckland City consent activity 31 May 2002

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Extra value in St Marys Bay

Valuable anomaly
Auckland City Councillors listened sympathetically on Friday to an argument that developers are taking advantage of corner sites in St Marys Bay, the old Auckland suburb directly above the Westhaven marina, and recommended the matter be investigated by the district plan working party.

The petitioner presenting a case to take away the corners’ advantage, a Mr Miller, told the planning and regulatory committee that developers of corner sites could build up to 8m high at the road frontage, to the detriment of neighbours and, because of topography in the suburb, people much further away.

By using a loophole, developers of small corner sites were making them more valuable, putting disproportionately sized homes on them. “Big dollars are at stake,” Mr Miller said.

He claimed corner-site St Marys Bay land values were above $500/m² and that developers could use small infill sites for large buildings when the council minimum for a townhouse site was 400m²

One example he cited, a two-storey solid-wall building on Hackett St with a view over the roofs to the marina, sits on a 144m² section which once had a corner dairy on it and has refurbished old cottages on each side, but is not an infill site.

The council’s resource management manager for the isthmus and islands, Karen Bell, said the residential 1 zone had unique frontyard controls, and corner sites benefited from having two front yards, giving the ability to build higher and closer to the road.

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North Shore consent activity, April 2002

Update: Correction on Paremoremo cells (they have to be removed after trials).

Hearing, Greenhithe North, 5 April 2002

Greenhithe North, 90 Schnapper Rock Rd, council commissioner Wyn Hoadley (chairman of North Shore City Council’s regulatory & hearings committee) with independent commissioners Harry Bhana & John Childs granted Hurstmere Ltd & PA Herzog Ltd (trading companies of landowners the Vuletic family) non-notified hearing for their applications to develop a 50-unit comprehensive residential development on 2ha (Hurstmere, which seeks land use consent) and a 3-lot subdivision covering a total 17.7ha (Herzog). Story: Vuletics get non-notified hearing at Schnapper Rock Rd

Regulatory & hearings committee, 4 April 2002

Glenfield, 145 Manuka Rd, the committee amended its consent for a 5-lot subdivision granted in January after the developer, John Scott, objected to 1 condition requiring all power & telecommunications wiring to go underground. 3 of the dwellings are already standing, but are served by lines which fall below the UnitedNetworks guideline of 4.5m for rights of way.

Mr Scott agreed to underground wiring to the 2 new lots, at existing flat 4. Overhead wiring will be allowed for the other units, but will be brought up to the guideline height.

Paremoremo Prison, 8 Sanders Rd, the committee approved an application by the Corrections Department to build 3 prototype prison cells to test designs for future prisons, but also decided the cells could not stay once trialling was finished. [This is a corrected item: Original story said the cells could stay; they have to be removed.]

Albany, 62 Parkway Drive, the committee received an outline plan of works from the city council & Transit NZ for earthworks to stabilise the site for the Constellation Drive busway station & parking area, and agreed changes affecting onsite management, silting, noise & dust control. The Environment Court confirmed the site’s designation for a bus station last June.

Notification

Mairangi Bay, 8 Sidmouth St, application by Georgia Projects Ltd to build a 3-level 14-unit residential development with basement parking. Submissions close with North Shore City Council on Wednesday 1 May.

Resource consent hearings

Greenhithe North, 90 Schnapper Rock Rd, decision on notification for application by Hurstmere Ltd for land use consent for 50-residential unit comprehensive development and P & A Herzog Ltd (both trading companies of original landowners, directed by Ita Vuletic, who’s also a director of Ravita Stud Ltd, Natrakelp NZ Ltd & Stina Holdings Ltd) for 3-lot subdivision of 2ha first stage on 17.7ha property, hearing Friday 5 April 11am.

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Variation 53 in direct conflict with regional strategy, says Environment Ministry

Mixed-use nodes the way to go — but is that just a new short-term prescription?

North Shore City Council’s Variation 53 for the Albany Centre expansion zone proposes the opposite to what regional planning policies say should happen, says the Environment Ministry’s northern regions manager, Kathleen Ryan.

The whole planning objective of the past two years, starting with the draft regional growth strategy in July 1998 and continuing throughout the growth forum process to the signing last December of an accord among all the region’s mayors, is for a high proportion of urban growth to be contained within Auckland’s existing metropolitan limits.

The region’s population is expected to double over the next 50 years, but to stop the continuing urban creep the planners have drawn a framework entailing more high-density living, and mixing uses around hubs or nodes within the region so people can live near where they work, public transport can be used more in both directions than it is now and the “old-fashioned” single-purpose zones for industry or commerce or residence don’t dominate any more.

Conflict for business land pricing

However, among the desired outcomes is another which is in at least partial conflict: improved opportunities for businesses, including affordable and suitable land. Price is clearly an important function, and just as lifestyle blocks are outpricing traditional farming on the region’s fringes, so residential developments change the pricing structure radically for commerce.

Kathleen Ryan told the commissioners hearing submissions on Variation 53 last week that the variation recognised Albany as a business and transport node, “but does not take into account the Auckland Regional Growth Strategy and the commitment by all councils to enable mixed use development within major centres and along major transport routes.

“In contrast, the variation specifies objectives, policies and rules that restrict the opportunities for the development of mixed uses, in particular residential development.”

The supposition of the growth strategy is that “service, office, retail and hospitality activities are mixed with residential development.” For the expansion zone, she said, “the council, in choosing to provide for only business activities, in effect closes its options for alternative development types in the future, given the likely speed of development in this area.”
[A subsequent variation, No 61, sets out provision for apartments in this zone as a non-complying activity. Variation 60, advertised last month, provides for small local shops and businesses.]

Another precription as property uses become more uncertain

The notion that all uses should be contained within a given area is as prescriptive as saying they should be separated, so it is a fad — it has less to do with the good sense of business and living in an unknown future, decided when the pace of change has sped up and it has become impossible to know what property uses will make sense tomorrow, than with the regimental nature of planning. For to say one must have housing between the town centre and the motorway ramps is to ignore the existence of hundreds of homes recently built within the surrounding kilometre, although some happen to be on the other side of the motorway.

A bus station and park-and-ride facility are proposed for 6ha of the expansion zone alongside the northern motorway exit ramp, both of them extraordinary uses of land. The parking is for more than 300 motorists wanting to leave a growth-oriented area for the day and the bus station will be an inhospitably long walk from the town centre.

The issue of parking and provision of public transport are related to congestion on the roads into central Auckland, not to creating less need to use those roads. Neither of them, the way things are designed so far, is helpful to the growth of a strong centre on the north of the region. So the Minister for the Environment’s absence of concern for these parts of the plan may be valid in one sense, but not so when considering sustainable growth in pieces of the region.

It also seems strange to insist on housing being placed between the park-and-ride and town centre, when the purpose of the transport facilities will be to take those people away.

Nevertheless, it was the housing provision which Ms Ryan was intent upon: “The provision of some residential activity as recommended in the officer’s report [to the council on the variation] goes some way to meet the minister’s concerns. However, I would ask that the council considers further the resource management reasons for the restrictive approach taken, and reconsiders both the types and ratios of residential development.

“I would hope that this would result in further change, and be more explicitly in accord with the regional growth strategy. I would also recommend that the council also include in the variation the resource management reasons for the types and ratios of residential development.

“If the council does not accept the minister’s submission, then I would recommend that the council withdraw the variation and urgently undertake work on its sector agreement, in particular the future of the Albany centre, and introduce a variation once that work is complete.

“My concern is that this delay could impede the development of the Albany centre. At the same time, I acknowledge there is much work to be done on the Shore on urban growth issues, for example, to get to the level of being able to indicate targets for residential development in the Albany area.”

All of that is a concern aimed at alleviating problems in the centre of the region, not with getting sustainable use of part of the region.

Cllr Margaret Miles also raised her eyebrows at some of the ministerial dogma, pointing to the proximity of The Fields housing along Oteha Valley Rd and noting that some business people had used reverse sensitivity, of not wanting the restrictions demanded by households, for staying clear of some parts of Albany.

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Highbury restaurant beats off parking levy

Council concedes, but precisely what it isn’t saying yet


A fee of $30,000 plus gst, which the North Shore City Council wanted to charge a new Highbury restaurant in parking contributions, has been waived.

The appeal against the upfront fees, for a restaurant moving into first-floor premises that had been vacant for three years, went before the council’s regulatory & hearings committee last month. But because some legal advice was needed, and the committee hadn’t called in the city solicitor in advance, the appeal had to be adjourned.

After legal advice was given in closed committee, chairman Wyn Hoadley told the restaurant owner’s representatives “the objection, in essence, has been upheld in its entirety.”

She said the committee felt the restaurant might cause parking difficulties in the future, but had reached this decision after considering matters raised by the restaurant owner’s lawyer, Sue Simons, and planning consultant Steven Dietsch.

That seems to be an admission that the council didn’t have a case, without actually saying so.

Last occupant of the Mokoia Rd restaurant was the Buffet Palace. The new owner, Sunshine Consultants, wants to import a kitchen from China and set up a 140-seat Chinese restaurant.

But those plans were thrown into disarray when the council decided the restaurant would have to pay a financial contribution of $30,000 plus gst for a 35-parking space shortfall.

Special rate once charged

The simple version of events according to Ms Simons and Mr Dietsch is that when the restaurant was built in 1978, the Birkenhead City Council had accepted responsibility for the provision of parking and had a policy of charging a special rate for it. Birkenhead’s replacement, the North Shore City Council, ended the special rate.

Mr Dietsch argued that, like cash-in-lieu parking spaces, the spaces in the street for restaurant customers were deemed to exist once resource consent to build was granted. And their existence did not rely on the activity continuing, but were an entitlement in perpetuity.

The restaurant space was originally a reception lounge, with 50 parking spaces provided.

Mr Dietsch also argued the council lacked a statutory basis to impose any cash-in-lieu parking levy within the Birkenhead planning district, other than for all-day parking, and that Highbury had plenty of spare parking anyway.

He also told the committee that if the restaurant did not start up, it would not easily be replaced by an office tenant. There was no demand for small first-floor spaces, and the parking contribution for it — even higher for offices, at $56,000 plus gst — would make it uneconomic.

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Jonmer’s new Anzac St application adjourned to 17 February

Residential in business zoning, financial contributions debated

A North Shore City Council commission hearing on Jonmer Projects Ltd’s application to build 134 apartments on its Anzac St-Fred Thomas Drive site was adjourned on Monday for completion on a Saturday morning, 17 February, so packed is the combined weekday timetable of the five councillors and community board members hearing it.

The application, through a company called Fellbarrow Investments Ltd, and opposition to it by Calan Healthcare Properties Ltd raise issues of residential construction on business-zoned land — and, for a long-vacant site on the fringe of the Takapuna business district, questions of undermining the integrity of the business district.

Another issue, not relevant in terms of the planning hearing, is highly evident from the view from the site across Fred Thomas Drive, St Joseph’s school grounds, the golf driving range and the harbour to downtown Auckland, as shown in this photo (right).

Is it the back of the city centre, or the front row looking out?

Is the turn of Anzac St into Taharoto Rd the back end of the business district, a small business zone completing the commercial and light industrial Barry’s Point Rd, or is it a front-row seat directed towards the region’s city centre?

Central Takapuna is a strange orphan: currently the hub of North Shore’s business activity, it is losing much of that strength to Albany; built between the harbour , Lake Pupuke and Takapuna Beach, it not only fails to face any of them but goes the extra step of having no relationship whatsoever with them.

The 8383m² Jonmer site, although it is just round the corner from the commercial and industrial strip of Barry’s Point Rd, has no commercial history and has proved a hard prospect to sell for commercial uses.

Jonmer bought it in 1995 from the council, which had turned a former quarry into a landfill. The land is zoned business 9 in the proposed district plan, which on sites of less than 1ha will allow for up to 25% of the site to be used for residential purposes as a component of development.

No density provisions

That point was seized on at the hearing by Russell Bartlett, counsel for Calan.

Importantly for developers, this type of site does not have the density provisions which confine the intensity of residential development on residentially zoned land.

Jonmer wants to build 134 apartments in three blocks in a U shape with views across the fields, and the waters of Shoal Bay, to downtown Auckland. The mixture of single and double-bedroom units would be on three storeys at one end, four storeys further away from Anzac St, with basement parking.

Part of the Jonmer case was that building homes on this site would counterbalance smaller-scale commercial activities on residentially zoned land across Anzac St, where Calan has the Artemis medical centre, has bought more houses to extend its development, but where apartments may also be built (which partly explains the Calan objection, although of course this wasn’t part of its submission or evidence).

Privacy confrontations may make business land easier than residential for apartments

Assuming both sites are for apartment use, the business-zoned site may have an easier passage toward construction because reverse-sensitivity issues have been dealt with and it doesn’t have neighbouring villa owners to complain about the loss of amenity, the kind of complaint over loss of privacy that is badly affecting development plans elsewhere in the region.

The Environment Court has turned down Kitchener Group’s plans for apartment blocks on the Mt Albert ridge, next to single-storey villas; an apartment block on retirement village land but still overlooking single-storey homes at Red Beach was turned down at commissioner level; and plans for several levels of apartments on the Howick & Eastern bus depot at Howick are facing similar opposition, with a presentation by locals over this use of business-zoned land to a Manukau City Council committee this week.

Jonmer’s planning consultant, David Haines, argued that the proposed apartments could be seen as a component of a mixed-use neighbourhood, rather than as a component of an individual site, which would seem to be a leap in planning interpretation, where the letter of the law often weighs more heavily in judicial consideration.

Mr Haines dismissed the possibility of cumulative effects on loss of business-zoned land in the Barry’s Point area, saying it was one of only a few sites in the area where residential activities would be suitable. Granting consent would not compromise the integrity of the district plans, he said.

Commercial no-go

Jonmer’s executive chairman, Ian Calderwood (left), said the company had investigated numerous proposals, only to find commercial uses didn’t get support from tenants or buyers. Cornerstone Group promoted a mixed development of apartments above offices and public storage units, got support for the residential but little interest in the other components.

The council’s planning consultant, Gael McKitterick, recommended granting the application because it would result in a significant enhancement of the amenities of the site and locality. She said it was physically separated from the main Barry’s Pt industrial area and had a close relationship with recreational and open space across Fred Thomas Drive.

De facto rezoning

Calan’s counsel, Russell Bartlett, said granting the application would amount to “a de facto rezoning. If that’s the approach to the district plan, let’s say so, or perhaps we don’t need a district plan at all if we’re going to work on this basis.

“Mr Haines skipped the purpose of the site and went to the purpose of the zone. The functional purpose of the zone is to provide for commercial growth in Takapuna.”

Mr Bartlett said the property was cheap at $700,000 [$83.50/m²] when Jonmer bought it because it was sold as a contaminated site; with a business purpose it could have been worth $7-10 million ($800-1200/m²). He referred to “shoeboxes” being built on business-zoned land in Auckland City because of the absence of density controls and the same was proposed here, with a unit:land ratio of 1:62m².

Mr Bartlett said the application should have come with an analysis of how much surplus commercial land there was in the Takapuna central business district, while the council should be providing for high-density residential use on residentially zoned land.

Arrigato comparison

He related this application to the Arrigato case (Ian Gillespie’s proposal to subdivide a farm above Pakiri Beach, allowed by the Environment Court, a decision overturned by Justice Chambers in the High Court), saying the judge’s decision “reinforces the right of councils to plan by policy and strategy, rather than by ad hoc exception.

“The High Court decision is unafraid to use the word ‘precedent’ in relation to a decision which clearly goes against an established policy or a clear zoning rule.”

Financial contributions argument

The planner’s recommendation to approve the application carried with it a recommendation that a development contribution be paid, equivalent to the current market value of 20m² of land for every unit after the first two, and $1316/unit plus gst for wastewater treatment plant capacity upgrading.

The development contribution suggested is the maximum provided for. Mr Calderwood said it was likely to exceed $600,000, plus gst, but in the interests of enabling development and the consequent generation of significant property rates, the council should waive this fee.

Mr Haines said that, with apartments averaging 48m² for singles and 60m² for doubles, basing a contribution on 20m² would be disproportionate. Using census data, he showed the average North Shore dwelling had 2.8 people but these units would average 1.35 for singles and 1.8 for doubles, demand for open space would be half the norm for singles and two-thirds for doubles. In addition, there was a substantial area of communal open space planned.

He got the appropriate levy down to 5m² for a single and 9m² for a double.

Community board member Margaret Field noted that a 350m² minimum single-dwelling section would provide the occupant with more open space than the 5.3m² of balcony available to occupants of single apartments in this proposal. “I have the vision of 5.3m² being about the size of a kingsized bed, and of people all going to have a liedown.”

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North Shore Snapshot, week ending 16 February 2003

Booklet to help plant right trees

North Shore City Council has produced a booklet designed to help people select, plant & manage trees on their property, including information about appropriate trees & bush for the city’s environment. The word “appropriate” is probably the most pertinent — the council, and individual homeowners, spend exorbitantly on inspections, reports & litigation involving large trees no longer deemed (by owners, but not always others) appropriate for their site. The booklet is called Caring for our trees & bush. The council has also released an updated version of its Tree & bush protection leaflet, which outlines the council’s policies & people’s responsibilities.
Council website: North Shore City Council

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Rodney consent activity, December 2001

6 December 2001

Notified applications

Orewa, 106 Grand Drive, on an intersection at the north of Orewa where the temporary State Highway 1 enters the township, application by Kathleen Cooper to subdivide 1.44ha into three lots. The property is zoned rural now, but future urban under the proposed district plan. Submissions close on 28 January 2002.

Appeals

Dairy Flat, 844 State Highway 17 (Whyteways Farm), Stephen & Jacqueline Bolton have appealed the council’s decision to grant Location Estates Ltd (Roy Richardson & Mark Weipers) consent for a 72ha rural residential development containing 63 cluster houses and a large communal lot. The Boltons say in their appeal some of the houses will be too close to the highway, sewage/stormwater disposal will be inadequate, rural character will be lost by creation of a rural village and the balance land might be subdivided later.

Dairy Flat, 149 Austin Rd, a draft consent order has been prepared on the application of B & S Harricks against refusal of consent for five new titles varying from 2-5.09ha. The Harricks are now proposing three lots of 4.5ha, 5.09ha & 6.59ha.

Kaipara Flats, Tauhoa Rd, the hearings committee is considering a consent order to settle the appeal by JV & SS Drinnan, who wanted to add three rural residential lots. The reporting planner had recommended consent, and planning consultant Lesley Jenkins said this could make it hard for the council to appoint a planner who would support the council’s decision.

Matakana, 14 Anderson Rd, the hearings committee found no evidence of how a proposed 6182m² subdivision round the heritage Appletree Cottage would help improve & manage the cottage. The applicant, JR Lockwood, proposes creating a separate 1.114ha lot. Again the reporting planner recommended granting consent. The committee is considering settling by consent.

Port Albert, 917 Port Albert Rd, the committee has scheduled a site visit to help consider a request for settlement by DA Bell of his appeal against refusal of consent to subdivide 16.04ha into eight rural residential lots.

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Tranz Rail opens Smales Farm HQ

Arrow completes job in 51 weeks

Tranz Rail Ltd officially opened its new corporate headquarters at Smales Farm, Takapuna, last Friday.

Like the $50 million twin Clear Centre buildings, the first development at Smales Farm, Tranz Rail’s $11.6 million, 6-level headquarters were project- & construction-managed by Arrow International.

The Tranz Rail requirement to fast-track the project meant both the base building & the fitout contract had to be completed in a timeframe pegged back from 66 to 51 weeks.

Arrow International project director Chris Hale said the Tranz Rail building set new standards in technology. “The integrated building management system (BMS) controls security, electrical & mechanical services and interfaces with fire alarm systems. Unlike most BMS control systems which involve different building services interfacing with one another, the Tranz Rail system provides a single integrated control system,” he said.

The BMS responds to individual cards which are programmed to the requirements of each user. On each floor there are about 21 individual zones which respond to different airconditioning and light-level settings. Lighting is automatically controlled in relation to available levels of natural light, but response levels can be adjusted to suit individual needs by keying in a user code to the telephone key pad, thus creating substantial energy savings.

Arrow International is New Zealand’s largest project & construction management company. It has an annual turnover of $100 million and employs 150 people.

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Regional councillors figure they should be taking Whenuapai lead

Defence Force is running consultation, ARC says it’ll send a submission

Auckland Regional Council members got a Defence Force presentation on Whenuapai at their strategic policy committee meeting yesterday, then figured they should really be leading the planning for the area’s new-look future.

The Defence Force is vacating the 311ha site, so it’s hard to see what role or interest it might have in any future development. But property rationalisation director Peter Bollmann said it would take at least 5 years to get the Air Force infrastructure in place at Ohakea and transfer all personnel.

The Defence Force intends to complete its consultation round on Friday 16 January after extending the closing date from mid-December, to get feedback in February and file a report to Cabinet by April.

Beca Carter produced a paper on options for the Defence Force, showing infrastructure constraints included wastewater issues, plus the findings of the Upper Waitemata Harbour study, due for completion in mid-2004.

Regional council staff said the council wanted transport & harbour study implications considered.

Among councillors’ comments, Michael Barnett was intrigued the Defence Force was undertaking consultation. If the council took the elad, the information would come back to the region. There should be greater recognition given to the regional strategy.

Catherine Harland said the airbase was outside the metropolitan urban limit and a partnership approach would have been better. There were questions such as, “If we’re going to rezone, how are we going to roll it out? Are there bits that should be landbanked? All those things need to be sorted out. Do a mini-growth strategy on this area.

“We need to be developing scenarios for the land use. Overseas, that’s how they develop large parcels of land. You go into a key process at a regional level. We’re responding to a specific.”

Several councillors supported Whenuapai as a 2nd commercial airport for Auckland. “All passengers & freight eternally toiling across the isthmus is not a long-term option,” Judith Bassett said.

Cllr Paul Walbran was disappointed by the presentation, saying the arguments surrounding the options hadn’t been examined. “We don’t have any of the pros & cons presented to us as to what these options are. You do have to look long-term. We have recently been considering roading designations and have seen what happens when there hasn’t been sufficient provision.”

Mike Lee said the council needed to present a submission broadly in support of Whenuapai’s historical use. “Alternatives could start off 1 of those urban landrushes and facilitate urban sprawl.”

Sandra Coney believed the council should get its staff to flesh out submissions and the council should take a position. She said the open space there “shouldn’t be gobbled up by an intense development of housing or industry. I don’t think we should overlook the opportunity that this could be a regional park.”

Dianne Glenn said civil emergencies needed to be considered.. She was told recently that Hamilton was the alternative airport to Mangere, “but why would we go to Hamilton when we’ve got Whenuapai?”

ARC chairman Glenn Bull said the council needed to tell the Government the Whenuapai land was “of regional significance and we want to be part of it [the planning process].”

The councillors decided the ARC should send a submission to the Defence Force, outlining issues & concerns the ARC has, it should ask the Defence Force & ministers to work with the ARC in deciding the use of Whenuapai, and council staff should report back to the committee in detail on options for Whenuapai’s use, “including opportunities for ARC input and co-ordination of input across the region.”

When strategic policy director Craig Shearer said the council might be pressed for time, Cllr Lee responded: “It doesn’t really say much for us, does it? This issue has been around for years.”

Mr Bollmann said he was keen to work with council officers through January-February, recognising the land was significant from a regional perspective.

The saddest part about this debate was that, as an expression of leadership & the regional voice, the regional council registered a good decibel below mute.

The regional council, especially its chairman & chief executive, have been battered recently as territorial councils & their mayors muscled their way to more power.

Whenuapai sits just inside Waitakere City Council’s boundary with North Shore City, and the Waitakere council has taken a strong lead on the airbase’s future.

Through the local council, the Regional Growth Forum and its sector agreement, through the regional growth strategy & regional land transport strategy and through the regional council, there is a planning hierarchy.

But none of that grants leadership, and it certainly doesn’t grant leadership to people who think they have to ask permission first.

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