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, 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.

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.

Street seating is very important in a streetscape, not just for the obvious amenity but also to soften the line between pavement and street. Sadik-Khan’s team moved very quickly; 643 kilometres of cycle-lanes were created in just 6 years. A study showed that at any time, 10% of New Yorkers are lost hence a major focus on way finding. She said that planning regulations creating parking minimums and car-dominated streetscapes are the result of outmoded approaches: “If you were a businessperson and didn’t change your biggest capital asset for 50 years, would you still expect to be in business?”

Compare this to the disastrous installation in West Lynn which has been justly called a ‘fiasco‘ by Simon Wilson in a very thorough article at the Spinoff. Over-engineered, poorly executed and extremely difficult to fix. I can’t help but think that Sadik-Khan would be shaking her head at what has been done.

West Lynn island

The West Lynn shops (photo credit: Simon Wilson)

West Lynn 2

West Lynn: This slope floods the shops below when it rains! (photo credit: Simon Wilson)

Retailers are often trenchant critics of the removal of parking spaces along streets; which is entirely understandable given the likelihood that customers will go elsewhere if they can’t find a park easily. Sadik-Khan advises starting a dialogue with locals and retailers to discuss with them the proven value of more walking and cycling along main streets but also to keep parking where possible such as through the use of ‘Copenhagen lanes’.

There is a glimmer of hope that these lessons are beginning to sink in as the designers of the Karangahape Road cycleway and street improvement are intending to begin the implementation with temporary barriers and road paint, with careful observation of the results and consultation with retailers before making anything permanent.

Her concluding words were: “You just have to find your streets. They’re hidden in plain sight.”

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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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December 2017-February 2018 Local Board Member Report

WLB logo croppedPurpose

This report covers my Waitematā Local Board Activities between December 2017 and January 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

  • As the second half of December 2017, all of January and the first half of February 2018 have been the holiday shut-down period for Council, there is little to report but progress on resource consents
  • Work began on the Parnell Plan in December 2017. More details on this in the Portfolio Report below
  • On Waitangi Day I attended a memorial service for Governor Hobson at his grave in the Symonds Street cemetery
  • 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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Helipad at 75 Sarsfield Street, Herne Bay

An appeal against a resource consent granted to Rod Duke (CEO of Briscoes) has garnered significant media and public attention but the reporting doesn’t give particularly useful or clear background on the consent itself. This isn’t surprising given the arcane, technical nature of such matters. In the interests of balance, I hope to give a reasonably clear, easy to understand summary here.

75 Sarsfield Boatshed Helipad

Picture credit: New Zealand Herald

In December 2017, Rod and Patricia Duke appealed their own consent (BUN60302136) for a helipad on their boatshed at their property at 75 Sarsfield Street, Herne Bay to the Environment Court. The application had sought consent for 6 helicopter flights to and from the converted boatshed (12 movements of one take-off and landing per flight), they were granted 3 flights (6 movements). You can read the Council decision report here. UPDATE: As at 18 December 2017, the appeal was withdrawn.

The construction of a helicopter take-off and landing site in the general marine area is a non-complying activity under the Unitary Plan. ​The take-off and landing of a helicopter from the site was assessed as a Restricted Discretionary activity under the Unitary Plan as Council assumed it exceeded the permitted activity standard by exceeding a noise level of 50 dBA Ldn.

​T​he original application was lodged in August 2016, I noted it in my August 2016 report to the local board as follows:

75 Sarsfield Street, Herne Bay: Reconstruction of existing boatshed and the establishment and use of a helicopter landing pad on the replacement building

R/LUC/2016/3508. The application involves the reconstruction of the existing boatshed and the establishment and use of a helicopter landing pad on the replacement building. The applicant has applied for the noise component of this consent as a permitted activity. The Local Board asked that this application be limited notified to surrounding properties on the basis of noise caused by the helicopter operation. We have also asked for public access along the waterfront to be maximised so that the passage of members of the public along the shoreline is not unreasonably obstructed by the construction.

NB: The Local Board can have input into the decision on public notification of a resource consent application but not into the substantive matters of the application. The input of the Local Board is not binding on the commissioner making the decision. Nonetheless, on some significant applications we will include substantive comments along with our views on notification.

The ​applicant’s acoustic expert provided an assessment of noise effects, dated July 2016, which states (on page 6-7): “Based on the above and assuming no written approvals have been obtained from the neighbours, a total of three flights (three approaches and three departures) a week with a maximum of one arrival and one departure on any one day will comply with a level of 50dBA Ldn at the most noise sensitive location, which is the neighbour’s foreshore boundary adjacent to the boat shed.  By complying with the 50dBA Ldn at this site the 50 dBA Ldn limit will be complied with at all sites not owned by the applicant”.

Council’s acoustic expert reviewed the applicant acoustic expert’s report, which was based on three flights (three approaches and three departures) a week with a maximum of one arrival and one departure on any one day and further information was sought from the acoustic expert, which he provided in letter form on 14 September 2016.

​After ten months had elapsed, the recommendation report for notification – further to the Local Board’s request for limited notification to surrounding properties – (dated 1 June 2017) recommended that the application be processed on a limited notified basis to 73 and 79 Sarsfield Street. This recommendation report was then shared with the applicant. Council received written approvals from the owners of 73 (also owned by ​the Dukes) and 79 Sarsfield Street on 19 June 2017.

The recommendation report for notification was updated as a result of the written approvals being received from the owners of 73 and 79 Sarsfield Street, and the report (dated 18 August 2017) recommended that the application be processed non-notified. The notification decision was made by a duty commissioner on the 18th of August 2017.

The 18 August 2017 recommendation report for notification states “The Council’s assessment has been based on a maximum of 3 flights (3 arrivals and 3 departures, 6 movements) in any 7-day period with a maximum of one flight in any one day. The applicant has accepted the application proceed on that basis.”

The application in this case was processed non-notified, with the assessment for notification being based on a maximum of 3 flights (3 arrivals and 3 departures) in any 7-day period.  A greater number of flights per week would have required an amended noise assessment and the officer managing this application noted that this ​may have required the application to be notified. Section 104(3)(b) of the RMA provides that​ Council (and the Environment Court on appeal) must not grant a resource consent if the application should have been notified and it was not.

The Dukes have appealed Council’s decision to the Environment Court.  The Council has agreed to Mr Duke commencing with his current consent (under section 116 of the RMA), while the proceedings are before the Environment Court.  The Court issued a decision enabling Mr Duke to commence using his consent, except condition 7 (the landing allocation), which is under appeal.

​For some context, t​hree other properties in Herne Bay have been granted consents for helipads, 2 of them for a greater number of movements. 10 movements (5 flights) from 64 Sentinel Road, granted in 2011. 12 movements (6 flights) from 12 Cremorne Street, granted in 2015. 4 movements (2 flights) from 15 Cremorne Street, granted in 2015. None of these consents were notified as they had all gathered consent of the ​surrounding properties: 64 Sentinel Road, written approvals from 9 surrounding properties provided by the applicant; 12 Cremorne Street, 3 written approvals from 3 sites provided; 15 Cremorne Street, 8 written approvals provided by the applicant from 8 sites.

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Post-Election University of Auckland Society Forum, 20 October 2017

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I had a great time chairing the University of Auckland Society post-election forum at Old Government House on the 20th of October 2017. Associate-Professors Curtin and Lees-Marshment were fascinating and erudite; PhD candidate and former television news producer, Mark Boyd, brought insight and directness to the discussion. It was a real honour to lead an event like this at my alma mater in such eminent company.

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December 2017 Local Board Member Report

PurposeWLB logo cropped

This report covers my Waitematā Local Board Activities during November 2017 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. I tend to only report on the Planning and Heritage Portfolio as Transport is amply covered in the body of the monthly agendas and the Chair’s reports.

Executive Summary

  • This will be the final report for 2017. The next will be for the first local board business meeting of 2018 on the 20th of February
  • I visited Māori Hall at 11 Edinburgh Street, Newton, on the 3rd of November with Chris Casey and a legal representative from the church trust that owns the building to further examine its renovation and re-purposing as a community hall
  • I attended the City Centre Residents Group AGM on the 6th of November
  • The Auckland Domain Committee held a meeting at the War Memorial Museum on the 30th of November at which we toured the grounds and the museum before the business meeting
  • 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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July-November 2017 Local Board Member Report

WLB logo croppedPurpose

This report covers my Waitematā Local Board Activities during July to October 2017 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. The general election campaign and aftermath proved to be more time consuming than I had expected, hence the lengthy gap between reports.

Executive Summary

  • I have created two new online, interactive maps of the heritage sites and the notable trees in the Waitematā Local Board area.
  • The Fukuoka Garden was formally opened on 17 July. I spoke as the Local Board’s representative at the opening following Mayor Goff and Mayor Takashima of Fukuoka City.
  • The Local Government New Zealand Conference was held in Auckland at Sky City between the 23rd and 25th of July. I attended as member of the Local Board and also as the Zone 1 representative of the Young Elected Members Committee of LGNZ.
  • On 28 July I sat as an Independent Hearings Commissioner on a panel to approve a day/night cricket match extending into Sunday at Eden Park. The consent was granted.
  • I attended the Independent Resource Consent Commissioner re-certification course on 9 August to renew my accreditation to sit on resource consent hearings panels. I am the Local Board’s delegated member for these matters. I passed my re-certification and will now be eligible for hearings commissioner work until 2022.
  • The Waitematā Good Citizens Awards were a highlight of the last few months. Held on 12 October, I was pleased to present the individual achievement awards with Deputy Chair Chambers.
  • 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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Notable Trees in the Waitematā Local Board Area

I have mapped the Auckland Unitary Plan Notable Trees (Schedule 10) in the Waitematā Local Board area. Scheduling offers a high degree of protection and I ask for publicly notified resource consent hearings as a matter of course when removal of the tree is requested.

Apart from these specifically protected trees, trees are also protected within reserves, any area subject to a conservation management plan or conservation management strategy, and trees within a Significant Ecological Area (SEA).

Trees in streets, parks and the Hauraki Gulf Islands will remain protected because they don’t meet the Resource Management Act’s definition of ‘urban environment’.

Council holds a wealth of information about our historic, natural and cultural heritage but it isn’t always in a form that is readily accessible. It is hugely important that we protect our significant trees and I am dedicated to sharing them with as many people as possible, so I created this map as a way to visualise them. Google Maps is an ideal tool as anyone can load it on their phone or tablet and can take their own walking tour with just their device as their guide.

More detailed information for each site appears when you tap or click on the marker. Some of the markers cover multiple trees on a site.

If you tap in the top right corner to ‘expand’, the map will open in Google Maps in a separate page.

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Heritage Sites & Areas in the Waitematā Local Board Area

I have mapped the Auckland Unitary Plan Historic Heritage A & B sites and Areas and the Heritage New Zealand Category 1 & 2 listed sites in the Waitematā Local Board area.

Council holds a wealth of information about historic and cultural heritage but it isn’t always in a form that is readily accessible. I am very proud of our heritage sites and am dedicated to sharing them with as many people as possible, so I created this map as a way to visualise them. Google Maps is an ideal tool as anyone can load it on their phone or tablet and can take their own walking tour with just their device as their guide.

There are four different hierarchies of historic heritage listed in two different places: in the Auckland Unitary Plan (Historic Heritage A & B-listings) and two created by Heritage New Zealand (formerly the Historic Places Trust, categories 1 & 2). This map puts them all in one place and allows the user to compare and contrast the lists by toggling the ‘layers’ on and off in the map’s legend. More detailed information for each site appears when you tap or click on the marker.

This map is quite crowded so it is useful to turn layers on and off in the legend (top left of the map). If you tap in the top right corner to ‘expand’, the map will open in Google Maps in a separate page.

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