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Out campaigning with the City Vision team standing for re-election to the Waitematā Local Board of Auckland Council. Polling day is on 8 October when we learn the preliminary results. You should have received your voting papers in the mail … Continue reading
Each local government election, Generation Zero – a youth-led organization founded with the central purpose of providing solutions for New Zealand to cut carbon pollution through smarter transport, liveable cities & independence from fossil fuels – assess and grade each mayoral, governing body and local board candidate who fills in their questionnaire. The group has a very particular focus and agenda so I don’t consider this rating to be a gold standard but the group does provide a useful countervailing viewpoint to the perspective of older, wealthier landowners who tend to dominate discussion of local government issues.
I was given an A- overall. You’ll see from the graphic that this was brought down by a B+ for consistency with their views on the ‘compact city’ and the Unitary Plan. I could have told the assessors what I know they wanted to hear but I thought it more worthwhile to give honest answers informed by my experience as a local board member for Waitematā for the last three years. Note particularly my answer to question 2 (the B+) in which I criticise the anti-democratic instincts of some of the more zealous pro-intensification advocates. Continue reading
This report covers my Waitematā Local Board Activities during August 2016 as Deputy Chair of the Hearings Committee; Lead of the Parks and Open Spaces portfolio; Heritage, Urban Design and Planning portfolio holder; and Local Board representative on the K’ Road Business Association.
As reported in the Herald, the 1912 villa at 111 Jervois Road, Herne Bay, will be demolished on a non-notified basis.
I asked the responsible planner at Council to publicly notify the decision in order to allow interested members of the public to submit on the heritage or character of the building as clear public and media interest was apparent.
Anne Gibson, property editor at the Herald, writes:
Vernon Tava, Waitematā Local Board member, sought information, wanting any demolition application notified so people could make their views known and objections were possible.
He said non-notification was not the right way to proceed.
“This is death by a thousand cuts,” he said of the loss of Herne Bay houses. “We’re seeing the gradual unraveling of Auckland’s inner-city heritage.”
“This is a character-defining building and there is significant public interest in its removal. The local board asks for public notification,” Tava told an Auckland Council planner and his fellow board members.
Whether or not the Local Board agrees with the demolition of the building is not really the issue. We requested notification of this decision. The Local Board is not the final decision maker on either notification or substantive resource consent decisions. I – and many of my constituents – are concerned that valuable heritage is being lost in the city site by site as Auckland goes through one of the building booms that it has every 30 years or so. People should be able to have a say and submit on an application to demolish a character-contributing building in a coherent block in a significant area.
The only heritage protection under the pre-operative Unitary Plan requires that the building be worthy of being scheduled which is an extremely high standard (of the tens of thousands of buildings in my local board area, only 85 are A-listed and 274 are B-listed). A problem with demolition consents is that there is no requirement for the applicant to say what they are building instead.
It’s worth pointing out that this villa is in Herne Bay, on some of New Zealand’s most expensive land. The average house price in this suburb has recently topped $2 million. Whatever is built in its place will not be affordable housing. Even if it was an apartment building, and it probably won’t be, it would be high-priced luxury apartments. More likely, it will house 3-5 of Auckland’s wealthiest people.
I am concerned that a well-intentioned but misguided group of people who argue that there must be no impediments to development in order to bring down the price of housing are seeing the role of locally-elected members as uncritically waving through any and every proposal that is applied for. In asking for notification I’m simply arguing for democratic participation in the consenting process so that the independent commissioners who make the decision can hear balanced submissions. This does not happen with non-notified consents.
In all honesty, I don’t think heritage-intensification is a binary proposition. Intelligent adaptive re-use and judicious preservation can give us the best of both worlds. But first and foremost, there needs to be a fair and democratic process.
This report covers my Waitematā Local Board Activities during May 2016 as Deputy Chair of the Finance Committee; Deputy Chair of the Hearings Committee; Lead of the Parks and Open Spaces portfolio; Heritage, Urban Design and Planning portfolio holder; and Local Board representative on the K Road Business Association.
Listen to my Radio Live panel with Melissa Davies and Trish Sherson.
Prime Minister, John Key, and Finance Minister, Bill English, seem to be at odds over whether we will have a tax cut or if it is best to pay down government debt. We talk about recent revelations that the Ministry of Primary Industries has been complicit in illegal dumping of fish caught over the quota and by-catch as well as activism on the subject.
We discuss the surprising – at least to me – controversy over a young woman’s recent decision to have tubal ligation and the gender double standards that it brings to the surface. Twitter is struggling to grow. Will allowing more characters help or is the problem to do with the ‘dark side’ of the platform?
‘T’ plates for tourist drivers: would they make a difference?
On May 10, the Waitematā Local Board resolved unanimously to approve my motion to allocate $10,000 from its Community Empowerment Fund to the Grey Lynn Residents Association (GLRA) to lead a community-led precinct vision for the area of Great North Road between Newton Road and Surrey Crescent (Resolution WTM/2016/67). The GLRA will work together with the Grey Lynn Business Association, Arch Hill Residents Association and Grey Lynn 2030 to deliver the plan.
“It’s not something that’s been done before and it’s a fairly novel approach to have a community work together to lead a precinct vision.”
This project has its origin in a fraught public meeting held at Trades Hall on Great North Road in late-2014. A packed hall of local residents, already incensed by the controversial Bunnings development, expressed their dismay that buildings in the area were being approved at six storeys when the District Plan envelope is set at four storeys (this is due to the operation of the Resource Management Act rather than any particular Council Policy) and a strong concern about the effect of shading on the general area that would be posed by taller buildings.
Bernard Orsman of the New Zealand Herald, reported on the 2014 meeting and wrote an in-depth piece. I was quoted as supporting intensification but also saying that resource consent applications that significantly exceed the development envelope set out in the District Plan should be publicly notified:
Waitematā Local Board member Vernon Tava says the extra height and density being granted for Great North Rd apartment buildings is a concern to the board.
“We have a contract with the community [for four storeys],” says Mr Tava, “and if [an apartment building] is outside of that it should be notified.”
He believes it’s still not too late to bring the parties together and come up with a “whole of area approach” for Great North Rd.
This report covers my Waitematā Local Board Activities during April 2016 as Deputy Chair of the Finance Committee; Deputy Chair of the Hearings Committee; Lead of the Parks and Open Spaces portfolio; Heritage,Urban Design and Planning portfolio holder; and Local Board representative on the K Road Business Association.