Published 15 June 2011
Auckland Council staff have changed the approach to heritage protection in business zones in the North Shore’s residential 3 areas, which Cllr Sandra Coney said yesterday would dilute protection – the opposite of what staff said they were trying to achieve.
Plan change 33 was before the new councils planning & urban design forum for input yesterday before it’s presented in final form to the regional development & operations committee on Thursday 21 July. The council’s intention is for the plan change to be publicly notified after that July meeting.
The council’s principal planner for the north, Ewen Patience, said in his report the plan change inherited from the North Shore council proposed a “heritage subzone”, but he said: “In a number of these business 1, 2 & 9 locations use of the word ‘heritage’ may create an inconsistency or lack of integrity in the use of words & phrases in the plan.
“Scheduling is the primary method of identifying & protecting historic heritage, and there is a concern that the heritage values of the ‘business’ sites of the change are not consistently good and therefore not worthy of the word. In some situations it may be ‘character’ or ‘amenity values’ that area at issue rather than historic heritage, which is now a matter of national importance under section 6(f) of the Resource Management Act.”
Mr Patience said council staff were working on refining the methods & wording of the inherited change but, parallel to plan change 33, a separate heritage project was moving towards identifying, evaluating & scheduling further North Shore buildings, including commercial buildings in the places subject to plan change 33.
Another aspect of North Shore planning rules – the urban design code under plan change 30 – is to be made operative following the same committee’s June meeting, tomorrow.
Mr Patience said staff on the new council thought the heritage plan change inherited from the North Shore City Council was more complicated than it needed to be, and the new council had adopted a discretionary approach, with some provisions non-complying.
As the plan change was for specified areas, Cllr Coney couldn’t see why matters such as building heights couldn’t also be specified, but Mr Patience said the plan change would allow the council to consider proposed heights on their merits.
Cllr Coney said heritage protection wasn’t a local issue, but one that needed to be addressed across the whole region, and talking in council plans about character & amenity would dilute protection, as it had done in St Heliers.
“The character approach – as we found at St Heliers and as we’re finding at Wynyard Quarter – has a lot of drawbacks. If you start defining bits within these heritage areas as character or amenity, there’s a risk you won’t be able to hold on to the heritage of the whole area. It’s not clear what character has meant. I’d rather stick with what the North Shore was proposing.”
Staff said the sites identified by the plan change – the Devonport commercial area, a few other sites dotted around Devonport and some in Northcote Pt & Birkenhead – were an eclectic bunch where redevelopment was the issue. A number had houses in them which would be protected if they were in the residential 3 zone.
In the end, the forum went with the staff’s discretionary approach, rather than continuing to debate what is likely to be debated fully again at the July committee meeting.
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Attribution: Council forum meeting, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.