Published 7 May 2006
Auckland City Council is doing with trees what some critics say it should be doing with heritage buildings â€“ defining the stock before applications are made to knock them over.
The council has gone to the trouble of doing a GPS survey to establish how many unscheduled trees there are on private land in the central area.
Quite why the council has done this is harder to establish, because at the end of a report to Friday’s environment, heritage & urban for committee, assistant council planner Catherine Chen made the point that in the central area building controls allow up to 100% development coverage on most sites.
The committee agreed that a range of methods to protect suitable trees should be identified and will get a report on that, plus more accurate identification & quantification of unscheduled trees on private land, although the report suggested this might be counter-productive.
Ms Chen said a higher standard of building design was the aim under plan changes 1 & 2, introduced last year, particularly in relation to street edges & other public places but also with the intention of getting well landscaped internal courtyards & private amenity areas in residential developments.
“The fundamental urban design principles, such as building to street frontages and minimum frontage heights, are rule requirements. However, most of the more detailed design matters introduced through plan changes 1 & 2 are encouraged through criteria rather than rules.
In a background report, senior council planner David Sanders exhibited similar pragmatism to Ms Chen’s: “Whilst some trees on private property will provide some internal amenity, once these sites are developed (generally built to the street edge) according to good urban design practices, the amenity such trees offer to the wider community will generally be lostâ€¦..
“While, as a discretionary activity, the council can ultimately decline consent for a development of bad design, the combination of criteria & design recommendations from the urban design panel fosters a process of discussion towards a mutual understanding between council officers & developers that everyone benefits by producing a building design which â€˜behaves’ well in its public setting.”
In this context he said: “It is considered that more extensive tree protection measures over private sites in the central area, with their associated potential constraints on construction, could be counter-productive to fostering an emerging partnership of the city & developers towards achieving a high quality of building design, which relates well to streets & other public spaces.”
The planners said the council focus in protecting & enhancing vegetation should remain on the public realm.
The spur for a report was the decision by development group Perron to fell trees to make way for an apartment development off Parliament St.
Attribution: Council agenda, meeting, story written by Bob Dey for this website.