Have your say or you can't complain
Point Chevalier is earmarked for significant change. Make sure it develops the way you want it to.
We've summed up the plan and given you an easy way to make a submission- you'll find it at the bottom of the page. Together we can improve the proposed outcomes.
We have learned that in the eyes of the decision makers, 1000 individual reponses carries much much more weight than a petition of 1000 names - so you need to make a submission - but never fear we've made it easy for you.
VIVA LA CHEV!
Feedback emails we received from local residents centred mainly on concerns around infrastructure, heritage, design of new developments, and the extent of the high building zones and density. Most accepted some intensification but disagreed with the disproportionate load given to our suburb. We believe we can influence this for the better.
There is a public meeting organised by Council next Tuesday, 14 May, 730-930, at the Springs of Life Church, 126 Point Chevalier Rd. Councillors, Local Board Members, and Council Planners will all be there and would love to hear how you feel.
A quick summary of the Unitary Plan
Aucklands population will grow by around 1 million people, or almost two thirds, over the next 30 years. Of this 60% is natural, 40% by immigration. It is the Councils responsibility to accommodate whatever people are here, while it is central governments role to set policies to control the numbers ie Council is simply trying to manage the hand they have been dealt. The current Council believed they had a mandate for a compact city rather than an endless sprawling one, and the Unitary Plan has as it's goal to put all these people somewhere, in a planned fashion, over the next 30 years. It's an admirable goal, but the devil is in the detail.
Point Chevalier has been earmarked for a large degree of intensification, proportionally more than other areas because of our proximity to transport routes and the city. Much more than suburbs closer to the city bizarrely.
The Unitary Plan is a draft of draft, and the Council are very keen to get feedback as they acknowledge it is rough and inaccurate in places - so if you don't like what you see - you must make a submission.
The Unitary Plan is getting mixed press, but it's certainly not all bad, and here is a quick look at the most prominent issues. Remember that while it is a plan and some outcomes seem unlikely, the plan enables them, and who knows what the :
Zoning areas have been simplified across Auckland, and there are just three types of residential Zone in Point Chevalier; Terraced Housing/Apartment , Mixed Housing , Single House . Here's a map that shows the Zones:
You can see more detail on the differences between the Zones here, or here is a quick summary:
It makes some significant improvements on rules for larger developments to try and get quality outcomes, eg, the Council currently does not have the power to stop a large development based on aesthetics - it will under the Unitary Plan. But, the rules are often very subjective and is a discussion between Council and the developer only, not neighbours or the wider community. There's plenty more good stuff though and a very experienced design architect has commented that it goes a fair way to ensure quality buildings.
There is currently no protection for historic streetscapes and houses in Point Chev (all currently zoned Res 5 and 6). Under the Unitary Plan pre-1944 buildings and streetscapes have a new level of protection, so that is an improvement. Overall streetscapes/groups of pre 1944 buildings appear to have more protection than an individual house would. Where there are higher densities which potentially allow infill buildings on a site with an existing pre 1944 building there are controls on how this is done.
It requires a a resource consent which is non notified so will be dealt with in a two way dialogue with council - no input from neighbours or the community. The criteria are ver subjective and exactly what is valued is unclear at this stage.
Other items of note
The Unitary Plan also provides guidance on a huge amount of other issues such as volcanic cone site lines, mangroves (removal back to 1996 levels is pretty much OK), open spaces, etc.
You can see the Councils summary of all that in their overview doc here
Comments and Feedback to the above
We've combined feedback from Point Chevalier residents with some research into specific local issues and conversations with some experts to give some local perspective and comment to the above.
Do Point Chevalier Residents want to see such a large increase in population?
Generally, no. Most were concerned that the reasons they moved here would change to an unacceptable level. Plus, they raised many of the reasons why below.
Most respondents accepted that change and intensification were inevitable, though some questioned the need and benefit of all these extra folks, changing the very essence of what makes Auckland great - space.
Ability of Point Chevalier to absorb all these houses and people.
Point Chevalier is earmarked to take more than it's fair share of the population increase, which it was felt by respondents did not consider:
Currently Point Chevalier School has one of the highest densities of any school in Auckland, and the country. The proposal to alleviate that and have a new primary school at Pasadena will help, but with thousands of new people proposed, our schools will continue to be overcrowded. Schooling is the MoE's responsibility, and Council does not seem to consider this in their planning. Point Chevalier is a special case as we already have overcrowded schools and it will only get worse.
This community passionately refuses to allow significant population increase without a clear plan involving new land for schooling.
b. The Local Centre ie the shops
The scope for developing this significantly is extremely limited. Progressive Enterprises (owners of Countdown) have already tried and failed, because the block bounded by Great North, Tui, Huia and Point Chev Rds is held in around 40 separate titles, virtually all separate owners. It would be incredibly difficult to develop this block into something cohesive, which is what a larger population will need.
Meola Rd is seen as a real bottle neck as it will not be able to expanded to include say a bus lane.
Most respondents were concerned that given most of the streets in Point Chevalier are dominated by inter war 1918-1945 housing, intensification could potentially ruin this very well loved aesthetic, which was a significant reason why many bought in the area in the first place.
So a positive is that there is now more protection of pre 1944 buildings, but again it requires a non-notified consent so will be assessed by Council only. These are currently not protected so anyone can demolish a house and what build what they want. At the other extreme, in current heritage protected areas outside of Point Chev (eg Res 1 and Res 2,) you cannot change a window without a Resource Consent, so it is a difficult balance to strike.
The challenge is to ensure the new buildings that arrive are of such quality that they become the heritage buildings of the future.
If you passionately believe that the heritage requires more protection, add that in to your submission.
Issues with the Zones
Issues raised were:
What to do
It is essential that you submit something. The submission process is all on-line and quite straightforward.
We've tried to make this process as easy as possible by writing a number of positions that you can cut and paste. If you want to add more or different positions then feel free. So:
Level of intensification
Position: We do not want to see the level of intensification proposed in Point Chevalier. The proposal must be scaled back significantly.
We feel that the look and feel of the suburb will be fundamentally changed and it is not why we chose to live here.
Alternative Zone Demarcations to those for in the Unitary Plan
Position: The Apartment/Terrace Housing Zone in Point Chevalier should not extend past Tui St. Mixed Housing up to 500m from Point Chevalier Local Centre only. The rest of Point Chevalier should be single housing.
Ending the Apartment zone halfway down the block to the North of Tui makes no sense as it is an artificial boundary drawn because it suits an arbitrary distance from the defined local centre - the apartment zone should have Tui St as it's North boundary, a much better urban design outcome.
We do not believe the Apartment Zone extending north along Point Chevalier Rd, from Tui/Montrose makes sense.
Position: Taller apartments (ie greater than 4 stories, say 6 or 8) could be suited to the strip between Great North Road and the motorway in Point Chevalier.
Current and future Point Chevalier infrastructure will not support the proposed population
Position: The current crisis with the overpopulation of Point Chevalier schools must be resolved before further intensification is allowed. The schools need more land.
Despite five years of dialogue there is still no coordinated plan between council and the MOE to fix the school population problem - we are sick of it! More land is required and if Council wants to make the problem even worse with intensification, then Council must find more land for the schools to expand into. It's that simple.
Position: The Point Chevalier Local centre will be virtually impossible to develop as shown as that block is held in over 40 titles. Progressive Enterprises has already tried and failed. Point Chevalier will not be able to service the proposed population increase.
Great North Rd has 28000 cars through it everyday - a major shopping centre that straddles the road will never develop in strong way. While there is land it does not lend itself to the strong commercial centre required. The pitiful centre we have now is a direct result of this already.
Heritage and character
Position: We strongly feel that Point Chevalier has significant Heritage value. In virtually all its streets, the original houses dominate the frontages, and this heritage needs greater protection with more community input than the Heritage overlay allows for.
We strongly value the heritage of Point Chevalier and want to see better protection for it, and decisions on it's future made with local input not simply by Council staff.
Position: Point Chevalier is a family suburb and we don't want student targetted developments adjacent to family oriented areas - their lifestyles are too different.
Given our proximity to Unitec, we believe Apartment developments will be targetted to students. We welcome the dynamic that students bring to the area but believe that the needs of families and students are quite different. They must be separated through some mechanism. Unitec should be required to grow it's site student accomodation on it's own land, now and when they grow - they have so much space!
Unitary Plan issues
Position: We do not accept that Resource Consents for 4 level developments should be non-notified and want to be able to have input into the process.
Position:It should be impossible for a Single dwelling to be left between two apartment complexes. It will be impossible to develop, and be a very shady place to live.
Position: The 30m2 minimum dwelling size is too small
Position: The restrictions imposed on houses that are in the Apartment zone whereby if you want to change your house in any way a resource consent will be required, must be modified to allow owners to make minor changes without consent.
Mixed Housing Zone
Position: We do not accept that Resource Consents for developments for five or more dwellings should be non-notified and want to be able to have input into the process.
Position: The 30m2 minimum dwelling size is too small
Position: The quality design handbook should carry significant weight and not just be a quide
Position: New dwellings should have good accessibility for our ageing population.
Position: The rules around the governance of Body Corporates must change to ensure they are a communal body by and for the owners, not a continuing profit centre for the developer.
Position: Further rules should be established around living in apartments, noise from AC units, placement of same, washing visibility, etc
The need for rapid population growth
Position: Auckland Council should contest Central Governments population, immigration, housing ownership, and property taxation rules and strategies.
Rapid population growth is a choice, not an inevitability.
We are choosing more people over lifestyle. More people, we have been told, are the answer to our economic problems, yet for the last 20 years, our GDP per capita has reduced, real wages have reduced, and all costs have gone up. Our quality of life has reduced. More people is clearly not the answer - there must be a better way.
We can control demand for housing by reducing immigration, changing tax laws so they favour owners rather than landlords as they do currently, and limiting overseas ownership of housing.
These are central government issues that must be addressed in conjunction with the Unitary Plan.
Earlier in April we sent out the following, which is a longer version of the summary above - but it may have a couple of errors.
Introduction from Cam
Responding to a call for a volunteer to write a summary of the Unitary Plan and how it affects us, the following has been written by one of our residents, Jenny Gibbs, to help us all through the Unitary Plan maze. To give you an idea of how appreciative you should be, the plan is over 1500 pages - so to get it to this digestible format has taken a great deal of reading, interpreting and editing, not to mention a lot of phone calls to Council for clarification. I have added a few extra bits as well, with Jenny's approval, where I felt something extra needed saying.
Jenny is not a lawyer/planner/politician, and neither am I, but we have spent many hours trying to lock down the facts as best we could. We had a zero starting point two weeks ago but as Jenny says "I wanted to do the summary so that we can all be better informed and consider the type of suburb we want to live/ work/ play in for the future and maybe even help to shape it. I hope the summary, at the very least provokes discussion, and at the very best enables a corporate response we can live with." We apologise in advance if we have made any errors, but have tried to be as accurate as we could. I emphasize it is just one opinion, from some relative novices.
It is also Part One of Two planned emails and the second one next week is intended to try and come up with some scenarios on how application of these rules might play out in practice at a section level. We are also trying to answer some other questions like how the Character overlay will be applied.
The vast majority of the suburb has been zoned Mixed Housing, which in the words of the Council "will encourage a mix of detached, semi-detached and attached dwellings, units, town houses, terraced houses and small scale apartment buildings." The zone dominates much of greater Auckland too as you will see.
How do we as a suburb respond?
I've already received mail from people who are worried what it all means and want to know more. I've also received mail from people who are positive and think that if it means Auckland doesn't endlessly spread out then that is a good thing.
Council is asking for feedback, but given the whole plan is weighted so heavily in favour of intensification and development, I'd suggest it will be difficult to just say NO, even if you want to.
There is one proposed response at the end, which we think could be a good starting point, to get you thinking. But I have no doubt it may be unpopular with those closer to the shops, and I'd suggest it's one of a few options.
We have been advised that both personal and group responses should be used - so make sure you submit.
I'm not entirely sure how we will get to the point of a submission with many signatures but I think that as a starting point to gauge the mood of our fair suburb if you email me with your position (short and snappy please), I can see what trends come through and propose something. So please feel free to comment via a new email address I've set up: email@example.com (stands for Point Chev Unitary Plan Feedback) - include your street name so we can match location with emotion. I can assure your absolute privacy and anonymity (you'll have to trust me on that one, but I can say that I've never worked for EQC, ACC, or WINZ!) but a small number of other people who may help me may read it too, as I suspect there will be more than a few responses. They will be sworn to utter secrecy on pain of death.
I've also set up a Facebook page (but I note these haven't worked so well in the past for opinion) - we'll see what happens http://www.facebook.com/TheUnitaryPlanWhatPointChevalierThinks
At the moment I'm guessing two or three common responses will likely emerge. One from those in the apartment zone, one from those in the wider suburb and possibly one from those close to the shops but not in the apartment zone. Quite where exactly this will go I'm not sure so please bear with me as I work through it.
I can't see a public meeting working, but if someone wants to organise one that might be useful. I simply don't have the time, hence this online approach.
We've not touched on the commercial/mixed zone spaces as that affects much fewer people, so if you want to know more about those please dive into the plan yourself.
One last note - everyone is aware of the schools issue so no need to bang that drum any more - it will no doubt be included.
So without further ado, please enjoy the result of more than a few emails, phone calls and late nights:
A summary of, and some opinion on, the Unitary Plan as it affects Residential Point Chevalier
This is my attempt at summarising the Unitary Plan as it relates to Point Chevalier from a residential perspective. It is an extremely impenetrable document for the average reader such as myself. But I think I probably represent the average Aucklander trying to interpret it. The Council has had this in planning for 15 months whereas we’ve had it for a week or two and are trying to play catch-up. (I’ve already fed misinformation to Cam, despite having checked it with Council – sorry Cam!) On the positive side, listening to feedback, the Council have assured us that a summary document will be developed over the coming week and available to all – their summary will be entirely accurate, whereas I can’t guarantee the accuracy of the details below – except that I’ve taken every care and measure to try to ensure that accuracy. I have had to be brief for the sake of space and clarity. If you have any further questions around the Plan, then I suggest you take them up with the Council. I have contacted the Council for several queries and they have been very helpful and prompt at responding.
I have broken the summary down into the following areas:
1. What is the Unitary Plan?
The Unitary Plan has been developed as a tool to deliver the Auckland Plan, which is the 30-year plan and vision to make Auckland ‘The world’s most liveable city’.
The Unitary Plan replaces 12 existing district and regional plans and sets out what can be built and where.
It is the rulebook that shapes how Auckland grows – should it grow outwards into more urban sprawl, or should it grow upwards and condense any growth into our existing city parameters? This plan very strongly paves the way for the latter: a more compact Auckland.
In my opinion it is a good thing that Auckland Council are planning for growth rather than simply reacting to it. It is a progressive and extremely bold approach and we, as Aucklanders, will inevitably need to reconsider the way we use our land. However, Auckland Council has developed this for the entire Auckland area and just how much thought and consideration has been given to our peninsula is unknown. I have spoken to Council and Board representatives who have indicated that a corporate response from Point Chevalier will be valuable in influencing the way Point Chevalier is shaped. There is scope to change the proposed zonings if we can present a unified alternative.
The entire Unitary Plan is online – reading it all is not for the faint hearted! The best place to look first is the viewer. The viewer shows how Auckland has been divvied up into zones. Here’s how Point Chevalier looks:
So you can understand the context of this, here is what the wider Auckland map looks like:
A large percentage of the city has been determined to be the Mixed Housing zone so it's important to understand what this means.
2. Population projection for Point Chevalier?
I approached the Council to find out what projections were made in terms of population increases in Point Chevalier. I had presumed that they would have had a discussion document which elaborated upon the rationale for the allocation of mixed and apartment housing and that they would have had in mind a rough estimate of how many extra people or residences the new zoning represents for each suburb or town centre they are trying to create density around. But no such information exists (or it can’t be shared because I was told in the same conversation that all discussion documents that support the plan are only working documents and wouldn’t be released until after the Plan has been notified). So, we need to work with what we’ve got to estimate for ourselves how many people this represents.
What we know already:
What we can estimate (with some rough maths!) based on the above:
If we take the projected population of Point Chevalier by 2016 (10,420) and add 66% (6,877) to it, we can get a rough estimate of what Point Chevalier’s population would be in 30 year’s time: 17,297. This estimate is conservative given the Unitary plan has Point Chevalier covered in mixed housing or apartments and the vast majority of the suburbs closer to town have little to no change – a doubling of the population is probably more likely.
3. How were the zones determined?
The strategy states (1.5.1) that it ‘provides for lower levels of growth in neighbourhoods with recognised character, identity and heritage. Areas around centres and business areas, with well-connected street networks, which offer good access to high-frequency public transport, community facilities and open space, are targeted for higher density living over time’ (for more detail on the strategy see 2.2.1).
When I spoke to Council I was told that walking distance to a town centre was the key driver. They said that the rule of thumb used was any dwelling up to 250m from a town centre was considered a short walk and would therefore be considered for apartment buildings. Any dwelling between 250-500m from the town centre would be considered for mixed housing. Any dwelling beyond 500m would be single housing zoned. But this doesn’t really seem to have been applied in Point Chevalier where Wakatipu St (one street nearer to Countdown than Meola) is approximately 500m from our town but the majority of dwellings north of Wakatipu St are still mixed and apartment block areas stretch much further than 250m.
It’s interesting to note that although there is a driver to intensify housing which is close to the city centre, none of the city fringe suburbs are affected too dramatically: St Mary’s Bay, Herne Bay, Westmere, Ponsonby, much of Grey Lynn, Mt Eden, Remuera and Parnell. It’s not until you hit Point Chevalier that the orange masses appear.
When you apply the strategies of 2.2.1 to how the Auckland map has been coloured in, it does leave you wondering – Westmere for example is left pretty much unaffected, yet it’s closer to the city and has no more character, identity or heritage than Point Chevalier. You may also notice some random streets, and in some instances, random houses which seem to be anomalies throughout Point Chevalier, which we believe may in part be related to flood zones or areas where there are ground issues and so not suitable for higher buildings. But not having been party to how the colour coding of each house came about, it’s hard to fully understand the rational behind the decision making process of which house/street is beige or light orange.
4. Housing Zone Rules
Here’s a quick reference table to help with the rules for housing types. The major points of concern are bolded.
NB: The table below covers the points of greatest interest and does not represent a comprehensive summary of all the rules. I have taken every care in relaying the information here to make it more accessible for readers but I take no responsibility for any inaccuracies.
Together with the above rules, certain activities are allowed/encouraged. It’s a lot of jargon but worth understanding as the consequences are really what the plan is about.
Part 4 Rules»4.3 Zone rules»4.3.1 Residential zones»1. Activity table:
Minimum section size
Is currently 1 per 375sqm in Res 6a and 1 per 500sqm in Res 5 (covers most of Point Chev). New rules are:
Mixed housing is the 1 per 300sqm or no density for large developments with site amalgamation
Single house is 1 per site. The minimum site area is 500sqm
Some conclusions from and comments to above:
The single House Zoneis pretty much the status Quo, apart from:
The majority of sections in Point Chev are now zoned this.
There are some big and immediate changes
It is the amalgamation of adjoining sites which are brought together to be developed where we are likely to see the biggest change from single dwellings to mixed housing. There are no density limits for 5 or more dwellings but such a development would have to be consented.
Apartment Terrace Housing
Likewise, in the Apartment Terrace Housing, it is in the amalgamation of adjoining sites where we are likely to see the biggest change from single dwellings to Apartment Terrace Housing. While there are no density limits, it must be consented and pass through quite a few design rules including:
Also, if you live in the Apartment Zone, and want to build a new single dwelling, or up to four, on your site, it is a Discretionary activity so you will need a Consent, and it will not be looked on favourably – ie the Council wants higher densification in that Zone.
An issue with this though is there seems no ability to just alter an existing house without Resource Consent. Council wants to force apartments/terraces, but for most people for decades this isn’t be an option. This is a flaw in the Plan that needs fixing.
There’s already the opportunity to increase density by amalgamating sites in Point Chev. It has happened a handful of times. This will not suddenly change.
We are not sure what would happen if two amalgamated sites, are developed and a single site is left in the middle that is difficult to develop, but it would be such a common issue we hope there is or will be a rule about it.
Also if you are in the apartment zone - "ka-ching!" is how an environmental lawyer friend described it - your property has become more valuable.
GIven our proximity to Unitec it would seem likely that the developments in the apartment zone would target student accommodation.
The Melbourne experience
An architect friend has relayed that a lot of what has been proposed in the Unitary PLan is based in part on Melbourne. Anecdotally, there what has happened is that a developer will analyse a particular group of sections in detail, and come up with some scenarios that are economic, then send someone in on a certain day and offer over the market valuations to that select target group, and buy up multiple adjacent sections where they see the right mix of potential for large scale development. This is a clear likelihood.
Overlays are special rules that can be applied to areas in addition to the Zone Rules to allow for a whole host of regional and local considerations such as infrastructure corridors, airport approach paths, character, etc . The overlays relevant to history and character issues are of interest, as to us, the character of Point Chev comes from the buildings we have, and we are not sure how this overlay will be applied. We may think Point Chev is architecturally and historically significant - how do we know if Council does, and what clues do we have to how they will determine this? And if they don't think it is, then demolishing is easy. It's a very important issue.
The Historical and Character Overlays that could be applied in Point Chev:
How will Pre 1944 demolition control overlay be assessed?
Demolition of a pre 1944 building requires a Restricted Discretionary Consent. I called Council about this and they say it means that much of Point Chevalier won’t be able to be easily developed.
The criteria for which the Restricted Discretionary consents will be assessed can be found in Clause 22.214.171.124.2.2. This says "Whether the building is of sufficient quality to be included as historic character by reason of being part of:
a. a coherent repetition of buildings of similar styles which:
i. have architectural value
ii. were constructed prior to 1944
iii. contribute significantly to the distinctive quality of the neighbourhood or streetscape character"
Similar rules for adding a house to the rear of an existing pre 1944 house.
"If the building meets the criteria above, it must be assessed against the following criteria to determine whether to approve or decline the application for demolition or removal:
a. the intrinsic character and value of the existing building, irrespective of age, and its contribution to streetscape character
b. the heritage value of the building by reference to its architectural style, whether as an exemplar of the type or as being representative of type
c. the integrity of the building in its current state, having regard to its architectural form and style and authenticity of its component parts
d. its relationship to other adjacent buildings, whether it contributes to a group in such a way that its loss would result in the loss of a character value attributable to the group
e. its contribution to streetscape character by reference to surrounds within the site, and/or to the public street, and/or relationships to open space shared with adjacent buildings
f. the practicability and cost of any necessary rehabilitation, and the inability to achieve reasonable amenity for occupants and reasonable compliance with any requirement of the Building Act."
So it seems that there will be consideration of Pre 1944 character issues, but this is such a key issue how do we know now what is considered of value and therefore should be retained? Council has already determined that we are not a Heritage area, nor is Point Chev pending investigation, yet we feel there are many streets where there are wonderful examples of buildings of their time lined up next door to each other. We don't want to wait for the first resource consent hearing to find what the real criteria are.
5. Summary: What could it mean for Point Chevalier?
"Will these changes litter Point Chevalier with ugly apartment blocks?" seems to be the most common fear.
Under the current rules, Council is powerless to stop ugly developments. It is the intention of the Unitary Plan to use the Restricted Discretionary activity status of both larger Mixed Housing, and Apartment Terrace Zones to make the consent conditional on convincing council of developments merits. To some extent the ugly St Lukes developments below are the consequence of the current Plan which comes from an era where nothing was envisioned beyond freestanding suburban housing. Council is powerless to stop ugly development where the current Plan allows it to be monitored.
The criteria cover just about every design aspect and specifically references the Auckland Design Manual. Council would not grant consent unless this is adhered to. This is similar to current situation where various non-statutory publications and Plan appendices are required to be used in assessment. This process gives a better outcome than writing a full set of rules trying to cover every eventuality for every site.
So in the Apartment/terrace zone, every development requires a consent that must consider:
This is what the Council portrays as Mixed Housing
Here are a couple of local examples from St Lukes of what has occurred in the past – these are reasonable blocks but they are jarring on the street scape where the neighbouring original houses are flanked by multi storeys, parking is an issue and its quality of design is questionable (no offense – just an opinion!).
With this influx of population into Point Chevalier, how could we service so many more people particularly given the current pressure on our schools – we have the biggest school, on the smallest site of all inner city schools. As schooling comes under central government, you wonder what provisions can/will be made under the Unitary Plan. The Unitary Plan states (2.1.1) ‘The timing, location and funding of services and amenities, such as … schools, will influence where and when new communities are established and whether existing communities can grow’. And that is as far as the Unitary Plan seems to comment!
(2.2.1) One of the policies around increasing the density of residential development is said to be in neighbourhoods which are ‘Adequately serviced by existing physical infrastructure or where infrastructure can be upgraded efficiently’. This does not seem to be the case for our schools.
Economics of development
Of course it’s difficult to summarise economic consequences that may result from this Unitary Plan but if we consider it in terms of basic supply and demand it might help. If the areas surrounding the city (Herne Bay, Westmere, St Mary’s Bay, Ponsonby, parts of Mt Eden, Remuera, Parnell) are left largely untouched by mixed housing and apartment buildings, the supply of houses in these areas becomes scarce and more desirable (and expensive) as population increases. If almost the whole of Point Chevalier is targeted for mixed housing and apartment buildings we have extra supply so prices could be comparatively lower. Bearing in mind that one of the key drivers of the Unitary Plan is to make Auckland housing ‘more affordable’.
The argument that ‘it’s unlikely to happen anyway because it’s not economic to develop land in Point Chevalier because everything costs too much’ is short sighted. This plan, if it is agreed to, will stay in place indefinitely; who knows what sort of economic climate and drivers there may be in 5 year’s time. True, apartment blocks and mixed housing blocks won’t appear suddenly overnight, but this plan enables and strongly encourages high density housing to be built.
Another argument that ‘Point Chevalier is already subdivided so it stops any further development’ is not correct. I checked with Council as to whether a developer, if they bought 2 adjoining sites could merge them and develop them as one. The answer was ‘yes, absolutely. It would be encouraged’.
Development also requires financial Development Contributions (council development tax). Council are making noises about increasing this tax on properties that are upzoned which will have a dampening effect on development. You will notice that currently small apartments were only really built in the CBD where the development tax (until 2006) was able to be covered by scale. Outside the CBD it has been related to land value and has been one of the reasons it’s been too hard to build apartments outside CBD. Anecdotally, it’s only been very expensive ($1.5m up) and large apartment developments that have been feasible. Possibly with these rules, apartments in Point Chev will be feasible once property prices have gone up another 50%.
Building student type apartments under current Mixed Use zone rules is a lot easier than it would be under the new rules.
6. What we propose to do about it
We need to work with Council on this. As I said at the beginning, Auckland will inevitably grow so it’s a good thing that Council is planning for it rather than simply reacting to it.
Given the criteria around how the zones were determined we suggest that one reasonable response is to apply the Council’s own rules of distance from town centre. The other Council criteria seem to flow from this one. This would see our peninsula look more like this:
250m from Countdown would be zoned for terraced housing and apartments (bright orange lines), 500m from Countdown would be zoned mixed housing (bright yellow lines). Greater than 500m from Countdown would be zoned for single housing.
Some people may really like it and it is a response which is based firmly on Council's approach.
Alternatively, it may be possible that we identify the areas or streets that have clear and consistent character and request they be zoned Single Housing so they are protected to a degree from demolition.
People in the Apartment zone might be freaking out, or be happy that their land value has probably just gone up.
Regardless we would like to hear from you and see if we can put together suburb response, or help those people with common concerns find each other. So please email firstname.lastname@example.org with a short and snappy summary of how you feel and we'll try and put something together.
Cam (and Jenny)
Rule 3: Height in Relation to Boundary Diagram
Housing Zone Rules References: