May 2019 Local Board Report

WLB logo croppedPurpose

This report covers my Waitematā Local Board Activities in mid-April to mid-May 2019 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 two wooden houses next to Holy Trinity Cathedral, Parnell are being demolished after a lengthy period of neglect. More details below.
  • I have been involved in a consent to remove a tree in Saint Patrick’s Square in front of the construction site for the Indigo building. This has resulted in widespread consultation with stakeholders and, as a result of these discussions, I have made a recommendation that a new tree be planted in another part of the square.
  • I have asked for Auckland Transport and Developments Consents to look into the reported lack of a usable footpath outside the development at 2 Churton Street, Parnell.
  • 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

Saint Patrick’s Square Bollards Re-Installation

Demolition work has begun on the building at the Eastern end of the Cathedral.

A project manager has been appointed and they have asked Council CAD designers to check how tracking curves for a fire truck may impact on the plan to install the bollards at the rear of the cathedral. The current tracking design shows that they can re-install the bollards at their original locations. They are uncertain, however, on spacing. The original design shows 6 or more bollards at each location. According to the project manager, that is more than necessary if the need for a removable bollard is included at each location. The current proposal works with four bollards at each of the locations; this includes one removable bollard for each location. This would provide a 3.5 metre space/gap if the removable bollard has been used. This uneven spacing may be a concern for our urban designers, so the team have decided to visit the site again on 12 April to discuss this matter and others such as how the placement will match the paving pattern. There have been at least two more on-site meetings since then as previous, sometimes unrelated, decisions are re-litigated by various stakeholders.

Footpath (or lack of) in front of 2 Churton Street, Parnell

We have been told by a constituent that there is no footpath in front of the new building at 2 Churton Street, Parnell. The approved plans seem to show a very narrow footpath; we have logged this issue with Auckland Transport (CAS-1046500-B4M1J0) as well as following up with Development Consents to ensure that they check that measures are taken to have a compliant-width footpath.

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.

Demolition of two wooden houses standing next to the Holy Trinity Cathedral, Parnell

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The Very Reverend Anne Mills, Dean of the Holy Trinity Cathedral at Parnell, has informed that Waitematā Local Board that the two wooden houses standing next to the Cathedral at 9 Saint Stephens Avenue and 1A Brighton Road will be demolished. Work at the site commenced on 23 April 2019. The Cathedral Trust Board and Holy Trinity Cathedral are creating an endowment fund to meet the need for long-term, sustainable funding for maintenance of the Cathedral, surrounding buildings and grounds.  The creation of this fund will be funded by the ground lease or outright sale of the land the houses sit on. Dean Mills reports that annual maintenance of the Cathedral, buildings and grounds costs over $300,000 and this will only continue to increase. Major maintenance projects such as the planned re-roofing of Saint Mary’s Church will also need to be covered. The Cathedral and Trust Board worked to have the land on which the houses sit re-zoned as Terraced Housing and Apartment Building (THAB) under the Unitary Plan. Following that re-zoning, they obtained a Code of Compliance Certificate with an option to demolish or relocate the two buildings on the site. The buildings are not listed as heritage buildings and the Trust have assessed them as economically unfeasible to refurbish to a commercial standard on-site. Following negotiations with private buyers to sell the two buildings for renovation and relocation, all parties have come to the conclusion that the size and structure of the buildings make relocation too expensive so the decision has been made to demolish the buildings. The project to prepare the land for sale may include the removal of some vegetation and trees at the site but none of the 17 protected trees in the Cathedral precinct, including the impressive Dragon Tree at the street frontage of the buildings, will be affected and management plans are in place for these protected trees.

Liquor Licensing Applications

There have been no contentious liquor licence applications made this month.

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 and can also comment on the substantive matters of the application. The input of the Local Board is not binding on the commissioner or hearings panel making the decision but we are able to appear at notified hearings to speak on behalf of the Local Board. This is not treated as a submission for the purposes of the Resource Management Act but it is given weight by a hearings panel or commissioner according to the merit of the arguments made.

Significant Resource Consent Matters

Resource Consent Hearing: 109 John Street, Ponsonby

BUN60321172. Application to remove existing buildings in a Special Character Area and construct two new two-storey dwellings. Following the grant of a land use consent, the proposal involved re-subdivision of the application site (comprised of two freehold titles) to create two new freehold titles around the approved development. The planner rejected the initial application for lack of information and the owners re-submitted the application. The Council Heritage Team do not support the application. The Local Board requested limited notification to the surrounding properties in November 2018 and the hearing is being held on that basis. There are four submitters, all against, with three to be heard. The hearing will be held in one day on 21 May.

Removal of Pear Tree on Saint Patrick’s Square

TRE60336185. Removal of one pear tree (over 4m tall). This seven year-old tree stands in front of the development site for the Indigo development at 51-53 Albert Street (the back end is on the square). The applicant will plant a 5 year-old replacement tree of the same time and undertake its care and maintenance. I have informed Cathedral management and the head of the two local residents’ groups (City Centre Residents’ Group and Saint Patrick’s Square Residents) and sought their input. They responded with the suggestion that the tree be relocated elsewhere in the square and that the new tree be planted in the same spot from which the older one has been moved. I passed this feedback on to the planner and a correspondence took place over several weeks during which it was pointed out that there is a dead tree in a planter at the north east corner of the square and suggested that the pear tree be moved there so that a new one could be planted in front of the building site when construction was finished. The developer’s arborist responded that transplantation of the tree was considered but the tree’s root system would be confined within the circular planter. In order to transplant the pear the whole pit and immediate surrounds would have to be to be excavated and undermined to lift it out in one. This would involve the uplifting the pavers around the planter and excavating down at least 1.5m -2m deep. Trying to uplift the tree out of the planter would likely result in root damage which would leave the tree structurally compromised when re-planted. Once uplifted the tree’s crown would exceed the  root ball area and there would be no way to anchor the tree if planted within the lawn area of the square. The pit is located within a ‘sites and surrounds’ archaeological designation and the excavations around the planter would also trigger archaeological consent issues. In addition there is quite a lot of damage to the pear’s trunk. The arborist has managed to source a large grade tree that would stand at least 4m tall and 7 years of maintenance has been included within the STEM valuation submitted with the application. Given all this, their recommendation is to remove and replace the pear and replant with a young, healthy and un-damaged specimen with a 7-year aftercare maintenance plan. In relation to the dead tree with Square, there is a fine red maple (Acer rubra) directly opposite the Cathedralwhich is one of the best of its kind in Auckland. It would be for Parks to replace the dead tree with another one of those but that is a decision for the Auckland Council Parks department to make. I have asked our Parks portfolio members to make this request on behalf of the Local Board.

Other Consents

  • 58 Albert Street, Auckland Central. TRE60335848. Removal of three street trees. Consent is ongoing, awaiting asset owner approval.  May require a s127 variation of consent as the trees are subject to conditions of consent relating to the adjacent development (LUC60312611). Negotiation between applicant and landowner is ongoing, once resolved will be forwarded to the DC for a decision.  Officer support depends largely on the outcome of the landowner consent deliberations so this is a watching brief. Currently on hold.
  • 89 Saint Marys Road, Ponsonby. TRE60335782. Removal a mature Pohutukawa tree located within 150m of mean high water springs to provide adequate daylight for existing dwelling and future developments. Transferred to a planner to process as the Council arborist is unable to support the application. The Local Board has requested public notification of this application with a recommendation that it be declined.
  • 85-87 Gladstone Road, Parnell. LUC60337209. Retrospective application for modification to the external facade of the existing heritage building and establishment of signage and light box within Historic Heritage Area. The work requiring consent includes replacement extractor system,  balustrade, steps and decking on upper level balcony, replacement pergola, replacement of street-side signage, installation of a light box. This work was required to convert the building to a new restaurant and the Local Board did not have input into this application.
  • 674 Great North Road, Grey Lynn. LUC60337102. Construction of a new three-level building containing six apartment units. Written consent has been obtained from 676 Great North Road and 39C Tuarangi Road so the height in relation to boundary infringement relates only to 672 Great North Road which will be shaded to an extent that is not significantly more than a compliant design solution. The area has been zoned as THAB under the Unitary Plan and the height and, although it stands out from the neighbouring one-storey houses, the design is not out of keeping with what can be expected in a THAB zone. The Local Board has not had input into this application.
  • 2-16 Watt Street, Parnell. LUC60337521. External building alterations exceeding 25m2 and comprehensive development signage. The proposal is to convert part of an existing three-storey car park building, at ground floor, into a food and beverage facility in the south-western corner of the site. The Local Board has had no input into this application.
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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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