Possible changes to viewshafts around Auckland will go to a hearing by the Auckland unitary plan independent panel on Monday-Tuesday 29-30 June.
The viewshafts make prominent buildings such as the Auckland War Memorial Museum and places such as many of the city’s 50 volcanic cones visible from a range of vantage points, but they also hinder vertical development and affect land values.
The independent panel, on a mission to complete its hearings by July next year, has been allocating short submission times for hearings, and has also been dealing with topics in mediation sessions ahead of hearings.
The panel is required to make all its recommendations to Auckland Council by 22 July 2016, which would enable the council to notify a finalised plan before the October 2016 local body elections.
The viewshafts are one of the more vexed issues of contention in the hearings process.
Housing NZ Corp outlined its position and the effect on land use in memoranda to the panel in May, and the panel considered dividing the topic in 2 – objectives, policies & rules first, followed sometime later by consideration of the 87 proposed viewshafts.
However, the council said that split would be inappropriate, given the need to assess the text of the Plan together with the proposed viewshafts.
The panel then decided to proceed as planned with a hearing on 29 June, but the council said its witnesses couldn’t properly prepare all their evidence in time for assessing all 87 viewshafts.
The panel then decided to go ahead with the 29 June hearing, but only on text (objectives, policies & rules).
Panel chair, Judge David Kirkpatrick, said in a minute issued on 20 May: “To assist in that focus, the council & Housing NZ have agreed on a limited number of viewshafts that are representative of the main issues between them. The council & Housing NZ have proposed that some of the samples are examples of iconic viewshafts with broad effect, some are examples that may demonstrate Housing NZ’s concerns with the development cost of viewshafts, and some are examples of the council’s position that viewshafts are generally of regional significance.”
The handful selected are: Mt Eden (Maungawhau), Rangitoto (Te Rangi-i-Tongia-a-Tamatekapua ), Mt Wellington (Maungarei), Mt Albert (Owairaka), and the combined Mt Hobson, Mt Eden & One Tree Hill.
As well as the agreed examples, Judge Kirkpatrick said the council & Housing NZ must also present a schedule of viewshafts identifying at least the following:
- Those that constitute the top rank of significance (about 14)
- Those the council accepts no longer merit identification & protection in the plan (about 9), and
- Those that Housing NZ regards as having the greatest impact on its property portfolio (about 13).
Submitters may also present evidence regarding viewshafts that are the subject of their submissions.
In addition, Judge Kirkpatrick said Housing NZ must provide to the council its assessment of the measured effect of the viewshafts on its property portfolio, measured in floor area. He said the panel didn’t consider it necessary to attempt to convert this into dollar value, given the difficulties that the valuation exercise might create.
At the conclusion of the hearing of this topic, he said the panel expected both Housing NZ & the council to address it on the next steps that ought to be taken to address the remaining issues in the topic, including how to address any further assessment of proposed viewshafts beyond the examples agreed on for the first hearing.
Attribution: Panel minute.