Auckland Council’s hearings committee has appointed commissioners to decide whether an application to demolish a pre-1940 house at 59 View Rd, Mt Eden, should be non-notified, although a rule in the current isthmus plan makes all such applications in the isthmus residential 1 zone non-notified unless there are special circumstances.
Council planners advised the committee on Wednesday there were no special circumstances.
Council resolutions team manager Rob Andrews said that, from the history of demolition applications in the residential 1 zone, this application might be considered contentious so it was taken to the committee instead of being dealt with by staff.
In his report, he said: “The existing dwelling has been significantly modified, as have surrounding buildings, and therefore does not have the special qualities identified in the guidelines. The building is not scheduled, and is not listed by the Historic Places Trust.
“The council has no knowledge of members of the public or interest groups having raised an interest previously in relation to the building. However, it is noted that consents of this nature – demolition & new builds in residential 1 zones – do have an element of public & media interest, therefore public interest cannot be discounted.”
Mr Andrews told the committee the building had been a resthome, but was converted into an 18-bedroom boarding house. Demolition would be followed by subdivision of the site into 4 lots.
He said all the weatherboards were plastic palisades and very little remained of heritage or special character value. A block of sausage flats was next door and the neighbourhood was mixed.
Independent Maori Statutory Board member Glenn Wilcox told the committee: “The board has maintained a position that these applications should be at least limited notification to keep the neighbours on board.”
However, Mr Andrews said limited notification wasn’t really an option because of the council guidelines.
Cllr Penny Webster questioned Mr Wilcox’s stance of not voting for non-notification, suggesting discussion to establish the Maori board’s position or to get legal advice, but board chairman David Taipari said board members had voted for non-notification before.
When Cllr Cathy Casey said the council should have a rule to notify every residential 1 demolition or removal application, regional & local planning manager Penny Pirrit referred her to the non-notification rule.
This would change under the proposed unitary plan but, in the meantime, it left Cllr Casey asking: “In that case you have to wonder why we have a committee at all. What’s not in this report is the number of changes in that street, how it feels as a street and the tipping point between residential 1 old and residential 1 new.”
Committee chairwoman Linda Cooper, sensing the very common council practice of debating principles, brought matters back to the appointment of commissioners, but not before responding to Cllr Casey’s view: “I think we’re straying. I think they’re really good questions, but I don’t think we’re here to deal with that right now. When you look at the whole street, although it’s got some beautiful homes, the character of the street has been altered quite significantly.”
The essential point for the notification application is whether there are special circumstances. It will be heard by the duty commissioner of the week plus a heritage commissioner, selected from Cherie Lane, John Hill & Richard Knott.
Attribution: Council committee meeting & agenda.