December 2014 – January 2015 Local Board Member Report

Logo croppedPurpose

This report covers my Waitematā Local Board Activities during December 2014 and January 2015 as Deputy Chair of the Finance Committee, Deputy Chair of the Hearings Committee, Lead of the Parks and Open Spaces portfolio, Co-holder of the Heritage, Urban Design and Planning portfolio and Local Board representative on the K Road Business Association.

Executive Summary

  • This report covers the months of December and January as Council has been in recess over the Christmas and New Years’ break
  • Fukuoka Gardens work is progressing with a dinner at the house of the Consul-General, a blessing of the old and new sites, and a report back on progress all in January
  • Western Park toilets at the northern end of the park have been re-sited and replaced
  • Controversy continues around the decision to remove six pohutukawa trees at 820 Great North Road

Comments

‘Making Good Decisions’ RMA Independent Commissioner Foundation Course

In November 2014, I took the ‘Making Good Decisions’ course for RMA decision makers. This course was funded from the Local Board Professional Development fund. I have received my final assessment mark and am pleased to report that I passed with an ‘Excellence’ mark, equivalent to an ‘A’ grade of over 85%.

Notice of Requirement: 820 Great North Road Pohutukawa

The Hearings Panel handed down its decision on 17 December to recommend that Auckland Transport proceed with the removal of six Pohutukawa trees. The Local Board fought this decision as the main submitter in opposition at the hearing. We are unhappy with the outcome but we did everything we could within the law to prevent this senseless destruction of a treasured part of our natural heritage. A civil society movement has now emerged in staunch opposition to the decision and there is likely to be an appeal.

Fukuoka Gardens

Consul GeneralThere has been a good deal of activity around the re-establishment of the Fukuoka Gardens with a blessing of the old and new sites on January 21 and a meeting of the re-establishment committee on 23 January. The meeting of the 23rd included a report back from the team around the visit from the Japanese landscape architect and Fukuoka City Greenery Department. The steering committee, including myself, and Mayor were hosted at the home of the Japanese Consul-General on the evening of the 20th of January. A blessing ceremony was held at the new site of the gardens on the next day.

Portfolio Report: Parks & Open Spaces

Western Park Toilets

view of toilet blockThe new toilets in Western Park by the playground at the northern Freeman’s Bay end have been completed. Although the decision was on the placement and appearance of the new toilets was treated by the Parks Department of Council as an operational decision and was not approved by the current portfolio holders, I personally Western park view of toilet blockbelieve that they are an improvement on the old ones both in terms of quality and siting. Their proximity will be appreciated by parents of children using the playground and they are easy to see and clearly visible from the surrounds improving safety and legibility.

Cox’s Bay Reserve Footpath and Boardwalk

The footpath and boardwalk are now fully consented.

Now that we have the consent, we will complete the contact documentation and put the project out to public tender immediately in the new year, close and award in February, with physical works being undertaken during March and April. There is a newly discovered issue with a short section of the path that leads to Richmond Road, which we will need to explore further. The last few hundred metres of the existing path sit partly or completely on several private properties of Parawai Crescent. To relocate the path completely within the reserve will require some engineering investigation, as it takes it off the flat and onto a slope so retention works and vegetation removal would be required. This will be dealt with as a separate project as such works are not included in the current consent.

The Domain Mirror Pond

Has been consented and physical works will commence post-Christmas.

The Domain Wintergardens retaining wall

This project has gone very well and was completed by the end of December 2014. A 29-metre section of the wall to the west of the staircase is not being demolished/re-built, as the current state of the wall does not suggest any movement or failure in the foreseeable future. As such, the Heritage Team preferred it be left alone, apart from removal of overhanging vegetation, cleaning and some brick re-pointing. This will likely result in a cost saving of approx. $50,000 (yet to be precisely quantified) to the project.

Portfolio Report: Heritage, Urban Design & Planning

House at 3 Brighton Road at risk of demolition

In another example of weak heritage protection in Auckland, at 3 Brighton Road, Parnell,  is one of the three large boarding houses on the corner of Brighton Road and St Stephens Avenue by the Cathedral. Unfortunately, all three are in varying states of disrepair and would require substantial work to be brought up to a reasonable standard of repair.

We have been informed that although there are no new applications lodged in the system for any resource consent, there is no PUAP pre-1944 heritage overlay on the site. The land is zoned Res 7a in the Isthmus District Plan and there are no controls on demolition so the properties can be demolished without notification or requirement of consent within hours of purchase being finalised.

Demolition of Res 1 House at 43 Arthur Street, Freemans Bay

As noted in my November 2014 report, a retrospective consent was  sought for the demolition of a property at 43 Arthur Street, Freemans Bay. The owner had obtained consent for significant alterations but upon commencing work discovered that the house was significantly affected by rot and borer. Instead of obtaining a demolition consent from Council they opted to demolish the property and sought retrospective consent once the demolition was complete. In these situations Council considers the application as if the building is still on site. Objecting to a retrospective demolition consent is only possible if Council decides that the application should be fully notified.

On 28th November the application was approved by two Independent Commissioners selected by the Hearings Committee. In the decision the Commissioners noted the unsatisfactory manner in which Council had been forced into this position:

Note

By way of comment we note that the process leading up to this consent had some difficulties in that the applicant seemingly knowingly chose to continue with demolition of the building beyond the point at which those works still fell within the approved consent for additions and alterations. If it were not for the existence of the consent allowing substantive [sic] additions and alterations to the original dwelling we may well have reached a different determination on this matter.”

Staff have identified a number of ‘learnings’ across the regulatory areas of Resource Consent processing, Resource Consent Monitoring and Building Control Inspections:

  • In terms of the resource consent processing, staff are increasing their Heritage training and will be ensuring that decisions for additions and alterations more clearly set out expectations for applicants, on how they should deal with problems they encounter with the structure and integrity of these buildings once the construction process has begun.
  • There will be some adjustment to conditions to include more tailored pre-commencement conditions, requiring a meeting with the resource consent monitoring officer, where they will establish and clarify which parts of the building are to be demolished, this will ensure there is no doubt or ambiguity.
  • The Heritage team have agreed to work together with the building inspectors, to ensure that they do not provide advice outside their area of expertise and to ensure they have a better appreciation of heritage / Res1 character issues.

Meetings/Events Attended

2014

1 December:

  • Turning on of the Franklin Road Christmas Lights
(l to r) Vernon Tava, Shale Chambers, Greg Moyle, Cr Mike Lee, Pippa Coom.

At the lighting of the Franklin Road Christmas lights (l to r) Vernon Tava, Shale Chambers, Greg Moyle, Cr Mike Lee, Pippa Coom.

2 December:

  • Local Board Workshop
    • Quarterly finance report
    • Auckland Transport update
    • Auckland Domain Plan
    • Local Board Plan
    • Open Space Provision Guidelines
  • Fukuoka Steering Group video-conference
  • Western Bays Community Group AGM

4 December:

  • Attended lecture by Professor Jean Hartley – Public Service and Governance Innovation

9 December:

  • Local Board Business Meeting

10 December:

  • Parks Portfolio Meeting
  • Finance Committee & LIPS Portfolio Meeting
  • Attended Unitary Plan Committee meeting

11 December:

  • Local Board Workshop
    • Stream daylighting report
    • Ponsonby BID presentation
    • AT Annual Programme
    • AT Update
  • Alcohol Ban review

12 December:

  • Tepid Baths Centenary celebrations

16 December:

  • Local Board Workshop

17 December:

  • Briefing on New Zealand International Convention Centre
  • Review of 254 Ponsonby Road Consultation Feedback
  • Discussion of Victoria Park / Fanshawe Street Bus Stop interface

2015

20 January:

  • Dinner at the home of the Japanese Consul-General for the Fukuoka Steering Committee

23 January

  • Attended basketball game between the Sky City Breakers and Sydney Kings at Vector Arena as a guest of the Mayor

28 January:

  • Blake Harbour naming proposal
  • Community Portfolio monthly meeting

29 January

  • 254 Ponsonby Road site  consultation outcomes meeting
  • Inner City Network talk on placemaking
  • Taxi Operation Plan meeting
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About Vernon Tava

Business broker, elected member of Auckland Council. Focused on sustainability. Lives in Auckland, New Zealand.
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