Bledisloe Wharf ‘Car Handling Facility’

Ports of Auckland Limited (POAL) have lodged a resource consent application (LUC60323081: Plans and AEE) for earthworks at 1-19 Quay Street (on the Bledisloe Terminal) required to facilitate the construction of a new, 5-storey car handling facility building.

The consent matters are limited to earthworks and National Environmental Standard (NES) only – new buildings within the Port Precinct which comply with the relevant standards are a permitted activity.

The works will involve 3000 sqm and 2000 cum of earthworks, which primarily relate to the construction of the footings and foundations required to support the proposed building. Consent matters include the undertaking a proposed volume of earthworks exceeding  2500 sqm and undertaking a proposed volume of earthworks exceeding  2500 sqm within the Sediment Control Protection Area (i.e. within 100 m of the coastal area). The works also trigger consent matters under Section 9(1) of the Resource Management (National Environmental Standard for Assessing and Managing Contaminants in Soil to Protect Human Health) Regulations 2011 (NES) as a controlled activity, as the works exceed the permitted earthworks volume. No discharge consents are being applied for, as the applicant (Ports of Auckland) is the holder of a permit to discharge contaminants from an industrial or trade activity (Discharge Consent 25179). 

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It should be borne in mind that this approach by POAL is in direct response to widespread public pressure, opposing expanding the POAL land area by reclamation of the harbour for cargo storage, including cars, (especially for cars). I strongly oppose further reclamation so I find it difficult to object to intensification of the use of Port land. However, given the strong public interest in the port and the environmental sensitivity of the area, I think that public notification is appropriate.

My formal input on behalf of the Local Board is below:​

The Local Board recommends PUBLIC NOTIFICATION of this consent on the basis that ‘special circumstances’ exist as per s 95A(9) RMA 1991.

The special circumstances are the very high level of public interest in development of the port land and the consistently expressed expectation of our constituents that they will have the opportunity to have input on such works​. It is understood that this consent is for earthworks and NES matters only, not the building (as it is a permitted activity if complying with the relevant standards); nonetheless, there are likely adverse effects from the earthworks which exceed the permitted earthworks volume particularly given the proximity of these works to the water (within the Sediment Control Protection Area), and it is the Local Board’s view that the external expertise on these matters that can only be accessed by way of a public notification process is important for the matter to be adequately considered.

This facility is included in the POAL Masterplan, covered in detail by Simon Wilson at The Spinoff here.

The building is the first part of the proposal pictured below. Only the consent application relevant to the car building (the green covered building to the left) has been lodged. We have no indication of when the other buildings will be built although it has to be assumed that this is some years away given the current operational use of the land.

Carpark Hotel

Pictured: The POAL plan for a ‘green’ carpark building with proposed hotel in front. NB: Council’s plans for Quay Street with a bus station, single lanes for cars are not represented in the image. Image: POAL

 

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July 2018 Local Board Member Report

WLB logo croppedPurpose

This report covers my Waitematā Local Board Activities in mid-June to July 2018 as Lead of the Planning and Heritage portfolio; co-holder of the Transport portfolio; Local Board representative on the Parnell Business Association; and member of the Auckland Domain Committee.

Executive Summary

  • I submitted to the hearings panel for the 144 Parnell Road resource consent on behalf of the Local Board on 9 July. More detail below under ‘Significant Resource Consent Matters’
  • I keep track of resource consent applications as they are received by Council, requesting further information, plans and Assessments of Environmental Effects for applications of interest. Significant applications are referred to the relevant residents’ associations for their input which I then relay to planners as part of the Local Board’s input. Reporting of resource consent applications, planning portfolio input, hearings and decisions in the Local Board area for this month is detailed in the Heritage, Urban Design and Planning section of this report under the headings ‘Planning’: ‘Resource Consents’

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Auckland City Mission Redevelopment

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One of the main issues that inner-city constituents ask me about is what can be done to improve the situation of the city’s homeless. I am very pleased to see that the City Mission have lodged a resource consent application for a dramatically expanded facility on their re-developed site.

136 Hobson Street, Auckland Central. Consent bundle BUN60319224. Overall, a Restricted Discretionary activity. The re-developed building would include a medical centre (including general practitioners, dentists and social workers) and pharmacy, a medical detox facility with 30 beds, 80 residential apartments – 40 of which will be used for permanent housing for ‘chronically homeless’ people and 40 for people on the social housing register. Of the 80 apartments, 70 will be studio apartments and 10 will be one-bedroom. The design has been structurally future-proofed so that an additional accommodation tower could be constructed at the Federal Street end of the site.

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The townhouses at 201-203 Federal Street. To be demolished. (photo credit: Vernon Tava)

A previous approved resource consent for the redevelopment of the site (R/LUC/2008/6866) provided for the demolition of the existing buildings on the site with the exception of the scheduled parts of the Prince of Wales building and the Federal Street ‘halves’ of the two townhouse buildings (pictured, built in 1908) at 201-203 Federal Street. In 2015 consent was obtained to completely demolish the two  Federal Street buildings (R/LUC/2015/3925: reported on in my October 2015 Report to the Local Board). These buildings are not scheduled and are not identified in the Character Overlay. Despite my great personal disappointment in the demolition of these elegant buildings, we were not able to have input into that notification decision as there were no planning grounds on which to do so. I have been informed that they will be used as a night shelter for homeless women until they are demolished.

The Urban Design Assessment by Boffa Miskell concludes that:

‘The high quality building facades in general at all levels of the building and on all elevations that are well-articulated, with high-quality building materials that will result in the building perceived in the round with a desirable sense of depth, texture, variation and relief and an overall distinctive architectural form and character that will become associated with the aspirations and activities of the Auckland City Mission and the social roles the Mission fulfils in Auckland … The built form and massing of the proposal does result in some ‘overs and unders’ in relation to the building envelope controls of the Unitary Plan, but in so doing represents a highly site-specific response to context including the retention of the scheduled heritage building on site, and establishment of quality building frontages to Hobson and Federal Streets of contrasting height and presence appropriate to the differentiated width and streetscape qualities and character of these streets.’

I am particularly concerned about the protection and enhancement of The Prince of Wales Hotel, built in 1882, which is a Category B scheduled building in the Unitary Plan. Early design options considered for the redevelopment included a more comprehensive restoration of the Hobson Street façade of the building, including removal of plaster render and repair or replacement of the timber weatherboard cladding, as well as the reinstatement of ground floor window opening. Due to budget constraints, this option for the façade can no longer be delivered as part of the project. The existing façade is to be retained, made good and repaired.

The heritage assessment is positive and said that [italics added for emphasis]:

‘The proposed retention and ongoing use of the former Prince of Wales hotel as part of the Auckland City Mission development will have a positive effect on the heritage values of the place. The scheduled building, which is currently in a deteriorated condition, will be retained, and repair and maintenance work will enhance its appearance and durability … The proposed new development adjacent has been carefully designed to allow the historic building to be retained and appreciated three dimensionally. By creating a separation to the north and east of the historic building and the upper levels of the new building, the historic building can be read as a separate entity, and there is a transition in scale from the old to the new that reduces the potential dominance of a new taller building adjacent. The detail, form and pattern of the proposed new elevations relates appropriately to the level of detail evident on the historic Italianate façade. The proposal will generally have a positive effect on the heritage values of the place and will support and enhance its ongoing use.’

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Valuation of Trees in Auckland

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Pōhutukawa at Cornwallis Beach. Photo credit: Ed323, Wikimedia Commons

In the course of reading a resource consent application for a tree removal recently, I came across the standard accepted method for assessing the value of trees in order to work out the cost of mitigation (i.e. what new trees or other plantings will be planted) in dollar terms. Having a professional interest in such things – I am a business broker as well as an elected member of Council – I am setting out the approach in this post.

Removal Costs are based on the current costs of tree removal incurred by Council including the physical removal of the tree and stump.

Amenity Costs

The following formula is used to assist with calculating the monetary amenity value of a tree.

Value (V) = Basic Value ($) x Species (S) x Aesthetics (A) x Locality (L) x Condition (C)

When young trees with less than a 6cm trunk diameter or less will be replaced by another tree, there will be no amenity value charge. The Auckland method is based on the method used by the City of Melbourne which was derived from the formula (by Dr. Peter Yau, 1990) of the Maurer-Hoffman Formula.

The basic monetary value of a tree is taken from the internationally accepted table of values devised by the American Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers and the International Society of Arboriculture, which in the base year 1988 was US$27 per square inch basal trunk area. When converted to a value corresponding to centimetres in trunk diameter at breast height (DBH) the Basic Monetary Value table has been updated to reflect more current monetary values.

Basic Value ($) is determined by matching the trunk diameter at breast height (DBH) with its corresponding base value:

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51-53 Albert Street ‘Saffron’ Development

I don’t often write up individual resource consents outside my monthly Local Board reports but there has been enough public interest in the Saffron development at 51-53 Albert Street that I think it justifies its own post.

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Albert Street Frontage (Artist’s rendering from developer’s application)

This application has a long and complex history going back almost ten years. The most recent application was for a breach of the maximum total floor area ratio  and also dealt with access by vehicle to the construction site and finished building by car and truck across the legal road part of Saint Patrick’s Square.

In February 2009, land use consent was granted to a previous site owner for the redevelopment of the site to construct a 46-storey residential apartment building including 15 mezzanine levels and 31 levels of residential accommodation under consent reference R/LUC/2006/7101. The building was proposed to accommodate 150 apartments, a café, a through-site link and 95 parking spaces. Separate vehicle entrances and exits were proposed from Albert Street, to provide access to the loading area and eight levels of carpark stacking within the basement. The consent provided for either demolition of the entire building (Option A) or reconstruction and retention of the Albert Street façade and demolition of the remainder of the building (Option B). The application was limited notified and 8 submissions were received. The Auckland City Council (as it then was) granted consent subject to a range of conditions. Continue reading

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Council Played for Saps with Closure of Public Toilet at 151 Queen Street

Brian Rudman has written a cutting and typically historically-informed piece on the closure of the Wyndham Street public toilets, part of the 151 Queen Street SAP building:  Auckland Council saps secretly remove Wyndham Street’s Loos

The opening says it all:

The old Fay Richwhite building at the corner of Wyndham and Queen Sts is called The SAP Tower these days.

The name seems strangely appropriate given the easy victory, the current owners, Robert Jones Holdings Ltd (RJH) have scored over Auckland Council in ridding themselves of the in-house public toilets.

RJH took the council planners for a bunch of saps and were not disappointed. The bureaucrats have agreed to the removal of the 24-hour public toilets abutting Wyndham St, and to the closure of the public walkway through the building — both without any public consultation.

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May-June 2018 Local Board Member Report

WLB logo croppedPurpose

This report covers my Waitematā Local Board Activities in April to mid-June 2018 as Lead of the Planning and Heritage portfolio; co-holder of the Transport portfolio; Local Board representative on the Parnell Business Association; and member of the Auckland Domain Committee.

Executive Summary

  • I attended the ANZAC Day civic ceremony at the War Memorial Museum, on behalf of the Local Board, on 25 April with Member Avendaño-Christie
  • The application for 51-53 Albert Street (BUN60308038, LUC60308036, DIS60308037), backing on to Saint Patrick’s Square, to change the use of the building from residential apartments to part residential and part hotel use, reduce the overall height of the building, remove the consented basement with stacked car parking and relocate vehicle access to the site for service vehicles and taxis from Albert Street to St Patrick’s Square was considered by the Duty Commissioner on 2 May who determined full public notification. The applicant has indicated they will not proceed with this application. The applicant has submitted a new section 127 application. This application is the same as the application previously submitted but proposes the removal of all vehicle access to the site. More information is provided on this below
  • I keep track of resource consent applications as they are received by Council, requesting further information, plans and Assessments of Environmental Effects for applications of interest. Significant applications are referred to the relevant residents’ associations for their input which I then relay to planners as part of the Local Board’s input. Reporting of resource consent applications, planning portfolio input, hearings and decisions in the Local Board area for this month is detailed in the Heritage, Urban Design and Planning section of this report under the headings ‘Planning’: ‘Resource Consents’.

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April 2018 Local Board Member Report

WLB logo croppedPurpose

This report covers my Waitematā Local Board Activities in March to mid-April 2018 as Lead of the Planning and Heritage portfolio; co-holder of the Transport portfolio; Local Board representative on the Parnell Business Association; and member of the Auckland Domain Committee.

Executive Summary

  • Earthquake-prone building notices are being sent out to owners in the coming months. More detail in the portfolio report below.
  • I keep track of resource consent applications as they are received by Council, requesting further information, plans and Assessments of Environmental Effects for applications of interest. Significant applications are referred to the relevant residents’ associations for their input which I then relay to planners as part of the Local Board’s input. Reporting of resource consent applications, planning portfolio input, hearings and decisions in the Local Board area for this month is detailed in the Heritage, Urban Design and Planning section of this report under the headings ‘Planning’: ‘Resource Consents’ 

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Auckland Transport Have Ignored The Best Advice on Cycleways

Believe it or not, in mid-2014 Auckland was visited by one of the world’s foremost experts on converting streets to cycle lanes and public spaces. She did this successfully in one of the world’s densest cities and set out her experiences and lessons learned in a popular book and a hugely well-attended Auckland talk.

Since then, it seems as though everything she said has been scrupulously ignored and Auckland Transport, in rolling out cycle lanes throughout the city, have made all the mistakes that we were warned against.

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Sadik-Khan at Times Square, New York. (photo credit: Olugenrophotograpy.com)

On the evening of 26 May 2014, I attended a talk hosted by Auckland Council from Janette Sadik-Khan, former Commissioner of New York City Department of Transportation from 2007-2013 under the Bloomberg administration. Her most celebrated project was a conversion of a segment of Broadway into a pedestrian plaza but this was part of a much larger body of work in which the Department of Transport would paint, measure results of, and then finalise street re-designs.

One of Sadik-Khan’s opening contentions was that “we’re not going to achieve healthy, safe, sustainable cities by planning just for cars.” Her experience in New York was that there is a “deep hunger” for public space and when a street is opened to people, they “materialise like in Star Trek.” New York is so densely populated that they experience “ped-lock” (pedestrian gridlock). A street performance group once painted lanes on some footpaths labelled ‘Residents’ and ‘Visitors’ as a response to the two-speed use of pavements. People actually used them.

There was huge opposition to the closing of streets and removal of parking. A lot of the initial concern was alleviated by the impermanence of installations; much of the work was done with orange barrels, paint and deck chairs.

Sadik-Khan noted that the speed with which she was able to free up public space so quickly was because of the paint-on-the-road, temporary installation nature of the changes. Conventional modelling and detailed design of more permanent, built barriers and installations would have taken at least 5 years to achieve the same result. Even so, traffic engineers often get it wrong. Once the temporary installation has been tested and proven to work well it can be made permanent. Post pedestrianisation of Times Square there was a 63% drop in motoring injuries and a 74% drop in pedestrian injuries.

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An example of the Sadik-Khan method. Note the movable barriers and use of paint; cheap to place and easy to amend. (photo credit: PBS)

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March 2018 Local Board Member Report

WLB logo croppedPurpose

This report covers my Waitematā Local Board Activities in February to mid-March 2018 as Lead of the Planning and Heritage portfolio; co-holder of the Transport portfolio; Local Board representative on the Parnell Business Association; and member of the Auckland Domain Committee.

Executive Summary

  • The Parnell Plan Working Group met on the 12th and 26th of February and 13th of March
  • The Local Board was briefed in a workshop on the 27th of February about the downtown public spaces prioritisation following on from the Queen Elizabeth II Square sale. Details are reported below
  • On 28th of February I attended the ground-breaking ceremony for the Seascape Auckland at 101 Customs Street East on behalf of the Local Board. On completion, this will be the tallest residential building in the country
  • I keep track of resource consent applications as they are received by Council, requesting further information, plans and Assessments of Environmental Effects for applications of interest. Significant applications are referred to the relevant residents’ associations for their input which I then relay to planners as part of the Local Board’s input. Reporting of resource consent applications, planning portfolio input, hearings and decisions in the Local Board area for this month is detailed in the Heritage, Urban Design and Planning section of this report under the headings ‘Planning’: ‘Resource Consents’

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