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’

Portfolio Report: Transport

Portfolio Responsibilities

Heritage, Urban Design and Planning covers a mix of regulatory and non-regulatory activities including city planning and growth, heritage protection, urban design In the absence of Chair Pippa Coom, I have been covering transport matters for the Local Board.

  • Wellesley Street NEX bus stops: the plans for these works propose, along with the removal of parking, a barrier at the intersection with Lorne Street to stop pedestrians from crossing Wellesley Street. The Local Board objected to this aspect of the project
  • Princes Street/Shortland Street/Eden Crescent pedestrian crossing
  • Meeting with John Street residents
  • Poynton Terrace parking to be changed from P30 to paid parking. The proposal is currently being consulted
  • Additional route maps at Britomart Station, Westpac Building entrance
  • Parnell Busway: feedback provided
  • College Hill paid parking zone is currently being consulted; This will also include the installation of two shared vehicle parking spaces on Scotland Street and broken yellow lines around several existing bus stops and at the western end of Hargreaves Street. Came to workshop on 26 June
  • College Hill pedestrian crossing improvements by Saint Mary’s College are being consulted
  • Installation of signalised pedestrian crossing on Hobson Street between Cook and Wellesley Streets. Currently being consulted
  • Cook Street safety redesign in Victoria Quarter. Came to workshop on 26 June. Feedback sent to AT from the Local Board on 10 July
  • Parnell (Gladstone Road) Cycleway came to the 3 July workshop
  • Point Chevalier streetscape project came to the 3 July workshop
  • Ian McKinnon Cycleway initial design came to the 3 July workshop 

Portfolio Report: Heritage and Planning

Portfolio Responsibilities

Heritage, Urban Design and Planning covers a mix of regulatory and non-regulatory activities including city planning and growth, heritage protection, urban design requirements, Local Board resource consent application input, and bylaw development, including advocacy to achieve local priorities relating to heritage preservation, good urban design and spatial planning. Regulatory and policy oversight of local liquor licensing, signs & billboards, and brothels.

Resource Consents

The portfolio request information on resource consent applications of interest as a matter of course. 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.

  • 29-31 Beach Road, Auckland Central. LUC60319438. Construction of a 13-storey mixed use building. The proposal involves the demolition of existing buildings on the two lots representing the site and its redevelopment for visitor accommodation and retail activity.  The proposal consists of a 13 storey building incorporating 96 visitor accommodation units.  No parking is provided on the site though generous provision is made for cycling facilities.  The applicant and owner of the site is also the owner of the adjacent Antipodean Apartments development at 39-53 Beach Road.  Provision is made for the sharing of servicing/loading through the development at 39-53 Beach Road.   Resource consents are required for the demolition of buildings, erecting a new building, exceeding MTFAR (not excessive), infringement of building frontage alignment and height rule,  and NESC Contamination.  The proposal exceeds the maximum allowable gross floor area by a factor of 0.29:1 which is approximately 162m2.  Whereas MTFAR is 8:1 the proposal is 8.29:1.  Overall resource consent is required for a non-complying
  • 103 Wellesley Street West, Auckland Central. LUC60319358. The construction and establishment of a hotel using part of the basement of the existing building with new construction of 10 storeys of non-permanent accommodation (hotel) and associated hotel facilities including lobby, reception and restaurant/bar. The application is for the construction of a new ten storey hotel building which is to contain 194 rooms, ground floor restaurant and foyer area with. A basement area is also proposed for servicing and loading with access from Wellesley Street, with guest drop off occurring via a one way ramp running between Nelson Street and Wellesley Street, with one more vehicle crossing than permitted. The building is to have a floor area ration of 6.5:1 where a maximum of 5:1 can be sought utilising bonuses.  Overall, consent is required as a non-complying activity.
  • 253 Ponsonby Road, Freemans Bay. New Commercial building on Ponsonby Road in Business Town Centre Zone Key Retail Frontage Proposal has minor height infringements of maximum height to Ponsonby Road elevation. The proposal is for a new retail and office building with frontage on Ponsonby Road. Retail use is proposed at ground floor level, with pedestrian access from street frontage. Three floors of office use are proposed above, with an additional basement level of office use. Office levels will have outdoor terraces facing to the rear of the property. No vehicular parking is proposed as part of the development, however, bicycle parking is to be located at basement level and will be accessed by all occupants of the building. Climber hedging and additional landscaping is proposed along the rear boundary outdoor area to the rear. Planter boxes are proposed at the edge of each of the deck areas facing to the rear boundary. The Local Board has recommended limited notification to the surrounding properties at 251 and 255 Ponsonby Road, 1A and 3 Russell Street.
  • 17 Selbourne Street, Grey Lynn. LUC60320761. Demolish existing lean to at the rear of the site & build new 2-storey addition. The height in relation to boundary relative to the northern boundary is infringed by a length of 5.753m relative to the boundary, and to maximum height of approximately 4.25m, which exceeds the required 2.5m plus 45 degrees required under standard H3.6.7 as it relates to the new extension. The Local Board would normally have requested limited notificationto the neighbouring property at 17A Selbourne Street – on the basis of the substantial infringement of the height in relation to boundary on the northern boundary – but the owner of that property had given written permission.
  • 67 Customs Street East, Auckland Central. LUC60321619. Erection and display of new wall mounted digital billboard in a V shape. Magma Multimedia are seeking resource consent to construct a new wall mounted digital billboard on the northern façade of the SO Sofitel Hotel building which is currently under construction at 67Customs Street East, Auckland Central. The billboard will be made up of a triangular shaped digital billboard with two faces (screens) each measuring 10m (H) x 3m (D) which will protrude out from the building façade by 2.4m (including maintenance space to the rear of the displays) creating a three-dimensional billboard. A 600mm high name sign with Samsung will be displayed at the bottom of each screen. Consent is required for alterations to buildings not provided for in the Queen Street Valley Precinct and for a billboard on a street facing building façade in the Business – City Centre Zone. Overall consent is required as a discretionary activity. The Local Board requested that the standard conditions of consent be included including
  • 17 Ayr Street, Parnell. Consent to demolish and construct a new dwelling in a special character overlay Residential Area A. The building has been severely compromised from a heritage perspective. Only the roof form and claddings remain. The front verandah has been removed and replaced with a flat-roofed extension enclosed with 1960s joinery. The iconic joinery has all been removed and replaced with post-1940s joinery. There has also been a fire inside a small section of the house but this has not severely damaged the exterior. The Local Board did not have input into this application.
  • 1 Exmouth Street, Eden Terrace. LUC60321920, SUB60321909. The proposal involves a mixed use development, which will comprise 4 offices and 8 residential units. the proposal is located on the corner of Exmouth Street and Newton Road and proposes to redevelop the site for residential and office use (mixed use development). It is proposed to develop the site for 4 offices and 8 residential units. The overall height of the building complies with the zone requirements with resource consent being required for a new building in Business Mixed Use zone, vehicle access, contamination, subdivision and (potentially) construction noise. Given the general compliance with the Unitary Plan provisions for the area, the Local Board did not have input into this application.
  • 4 Brown Street, Ponsonby. TRE60321764. Application by Ponsonby Central Limited for removal of a Queensland Box street tree within the Richmond Road road reserve. The removal of the tree is required in order to facilitate construction works, specifically a truck exit, associated with an approved development (a basement carpark and retail/office building) within the existing Ponsonby Central carpark (R/LUC/2015/3545). The tree forms part of an overall avenue of similar trees heading westward along Richmond Road but the applicant submits that any contribution to this boulevard effect is relatively modest given its distance (66 metres) from the nearest similar tree on the northern side of the road. The tree canopy has been significantly modified on a continual basis to accommodate overhead power lines. The removal will result in some loss of amenity value but the applicant is willing to plant any number and type of trees that Council recommends to offset this, and they have offered to plant three cherry trees to match those currently planted on the berm closer to Ponsonby Road. The proposed removal and mitigation offered have been approved by Community Facilities.
  • 15 Nugent Street, Grafton. LUC60322423, DIS60322422. To construct a six storey residential apartment building containing 92 residential units and an 85m2 retail unit, a basement carpark and including the short-term discharge of contaminants to air, land or water.

Significant Resource Consent Matters

Co-Haus at 11 Surrey Crescent, Grey Lynn

LUC60317194, SUB60317195. Substantial demolition & relocation of the existing building and the construction of 19 dwellings for a ‘co-housing’ development. The development has been given limited notification to the surrounding area.

51-53 Albert Street, Auckland Central – Hotel on Saint Patrick’s Square

LUC60096872-E. 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.

The consent was subsequently appealed by two parties related to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. This appeal was withdrawn following the approval of a variation to the consent (R/VCC/2009/1516) which addressed the concerns raised by the appellants regarding noise and geotechnical matters to do with extensive proposed basement excavations by significantly reducing the scale of excavation. Work of the extent originally proposed would have been likely to affect the stability of Saint Patrick & Saint Joseph Cathedral which was seismically strengthened in 2006 at a cost of over $11 million.

A further variation to the original consent was approved on a non-notified basis in 2014 modifying Condition 2, which required the sites at 51-53 Albert Street and 55 Albert Street to be held together for development purposes (consent R/VCC/2006/7101/1). The airspace development rights over number 55 have been transferred to 51-53 which means that 55 will remain at its present height of two storeys.

In July 2013, consent was granted to extend the lapse period of the existing consent by 3 years from 18 February 2014 to 18 February 2017 (R/EXT/2006/7101/1). In August 2013, consent was sought and obtained for the demolition of the existing building only (R/LUC/2013/3468), that consent has now lapsed.

In December 2016, under a new owner, a section 127 RMA application was lodged to vary both the development and demolition consents to confirm that only Option B of the original consent (retention of the Albert Street façade and demolition of the rest of the building) would be pursued. This application was approved in January 2017. The proposal was now part hotel/part apartment and the height was scaled back to 34 storeys. As part of the assessment of that application, Council’s Built Heritage Specialist, Dr Bryan Pooley, raised concerns regarding the proposed removal and re-instatement of the Albert Street façade, and regarding the loss of the St Patrick’s Square façade. These matters were addressed and another variation (R/VCC/2006/7101/3) was granted on 19 April 2017 with conditions changed to ensure the protection of the heritage building. The 51-53 Albert Street frontage – the former Dexter & Crozier building – now has a Heritage B-listing under the unitary Plan.

The application (BUN60308038) was considered by the Duty Commissioner on 2 May 2018; they determined full public notification primarily on the basis of the traffic impacts within Saint Patrick’s Square.

The applicant indicated that they would not proceed with that application and submitted a new section 127 RMA variation. The new application was the same as the application previously submitted but proposed the removal of all vehicle access to the site post-construction. The conditions include extensive measures to protect and remediate the part of the square that will be used for construction.

The re-submitted application was approved on a non-notified basis by Duty Commissioner, Dave Serjeant, on 27 June 2018.

I know that there are lingering concerns about how traffic will be managed around the site when it is finished and whether Auckland Transport’s enforcement will be up to snuff to keep traffic created by the building out of the square but this is a much-improved outcome as the developer could have reverted to the 2009 consent which did not  include protection full retention of the heritage frontages on Albert Street and the Square, was several floors higher, and allowed traffic through the Square.

Restoration of native bush at Western Springs hillside

LUC60321424. Earthworks and Excavation, vegetation alternation and removal to facilitate removal of pine trees from Northern part of Western Springs Lakeside Park. This application is proceeding on a notified basis.

Surrey Crescent Housing New Zealand Development

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R/JSL/2016/4024: Joint Subdivision and Land Use Consent by Housing New Zealand. This site is located within a Special Housing Area and was lodged for consideration under the Housing Accords and Special Housing Area Act (not the RMA) back in 2016. The application is seeking to demolish the 22 existing pensioner flats onsite and construct a six storey apartment building accommodating 64 one-bedroom units and associated unit title subdivision. The future units are all proposed to be for Housing NZ tenants. This application is currently undergoing limited notification.

The application has been on hold and processing throughout this time until a limited notification decision was made by a duty commissioner earlier in 2018.The properties being notified are to the south (off Great North Road) of 32-36 Surrey Crescent: 631A Great North Road, 629B Great North Road, 629A Great North Road, 633A Great North Road, 633 Great North Road, 637 Great North Road, 631 Great North Road, 635 Great North Road, 635A Great North Road.

I asked Housing New Zealand what arrangements are being made for the current tenants of the flats and received the following reply:

‘Current residents have been sent letters setting up one:one meetings with our specialist Tenant Liaison Team for next week.  This is in line with our tenants first policy – letting our tenants know about any changes before the wider community is informed.  The Tenant Liaison team is a specialised group that works directly with our tenants affected by redevelopment.  The Tenant Liaison Officers will sit with each tenant and discuss their needs for housing, and will then identify appropriate homes for people to relocate to.  Everyone’s needs are different, and this can take some time.  Once a home that is acceptable to our tenant is identified, a match is made and our team provides the logistical support for the move to happen (including paying any moving costs).

All of our tenants are then followed up over a 2-5 month period to check that they have settled in to their new homes, and that there are no further outstanding needs. Our follow up surveys indicate a high rate of satisfaction with the process and support received. In general, we aim to move tenants only once.  A single move minimises disruption for our tenants.’

City Mission Redevelopment, 136 Hobson Street – 201-203 Federal Street

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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.

A previous approved resource consent for the redevelopment of the site (R/LUC/2008/6866) provides 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 (built in 1908) at 201-203 Federal Street. A consent was obtained to completely demolish the two buildings in 2015 (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.

The Urban Design Assessment by Boffa Miskell concludes:

‘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.’

Given the positive heritage and urban design outcomes, and the high social utility of the development, the Local Board took the unusual step of providing input supporting the application without input as to its notification.

144 Parnell Road, Windsor Hotel Development

R/LUC/2017/87. Conversion of the Heritage listed former Windsor Castle Hotel building for residential and commercial use and construction of a new 5-level apartment building in an L-shape around the Heritage building (in total 13 apartments and 3 food & beverage tenancies).  Breach of the Auckland War Memorial Museum view shaft control (max. infringement of 2 metres at the lift shaft). Breach of maximum building height control, with 13 metres permitted, and an approximately 18.2 metre roof height proposed. The Local Board requested public notification of this project given its scale and impact on a significant streetscape. A decision was made to publicly notify this application on 7 August 2017. The hearing was held on 9 July 2018. I appeared before the panel to provide Local Board comment.

Screen Shot 2018-07-15 at 23.49.37

The proposed development. Image: developer’s plans

My submission on behalf of the Local Board to the hearings panel for this consent was as follows:

Height and Bulk

The building is between 5 and 6 metres higher than the 13-metre height limit. This is more than 40% over height. The reference point for its height being taken from the Heard Building is to be cautioned against given that the Heard Building’s height and bulk is offset by the significant open space of Heard’s Park. A sensible balance must be struck on a case-by-case basis between the objectives of increased intensification and the special character status of an iconic Heritage B-scheduled building on a corner site, one of the oldest buildings in the oldest suburb in Auckland. Context is important: although, for instance,  there is provision for height limits as high as 27 metres nearby, that is in a mixed-use, non-special character area near the bottom of a precipitous slope leaving an effective height limit of ~13 metres relative to the main road. It is the Local Board’s submission that the new building as proposed overwhelms, and inadequately relates to, the Windsor Hotel building. Furthermore, it is excessively tall and bulky for the site on which it would sit.

Legibility of Levels of Building

The scheme should relate more legibly with the scheduled building. The parapet of the Windsor Castle Hotel would read better if it were roughly level with the balcony of level 3 of the new building. This would necessitate one less floor for the building to be do this and be an acceptable height. The floor levels appear to relate to the neighbouring building at 156 Parnell Road rather than the building it surrounds. See Auckland Unitary Plan D18.8.3(13) and D18.8.1.2(1(b), (c) for the Unitary Plan requirement for consistency with the adjacent building in a special character, town centre area.

Museum Viewshaft

The Local Board have heard very clearly from constituents, on numerous occasions, that they highly value the viewshafts protected in the Unitary Plan. The Museum viewshaft does not need to be infringed by the building if its height is reduced by as little as two metres.

Conclusion

The Local Board submits that the building should be one storey lower with levels that match those of the Windsor Castle Hotel building for the first two storeys. This would satisfy all of the concerns raised above. If this cannot be done, the consent should be declined.

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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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