Valuation of Trees in Auckland

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Pōhutukawa at Cornwallis Beach. Photo credit: Ed323, Wikimedia Commons

In the course of reading a resource consent application for a tree removal recently, I came across the standard accepted method for assessing the value of trees in order to work out the cost of mitigation (i.e. what new trees or other plantings will be planted) in dollar terms. Having a professional interest in such things – I am a business broker as well as an elected member of Council – I am setting out the approach in this post.

Removal Costs are based on the current costs of tree removal incurred by Council including the physical removal of the tree and stump.

Amenity Costs

The following formula is used to assist with calculating the monetary amenity value of a tree.

Value (V) = Basic Value ($) x Species (S) x Aesthetics (A) x Locality (L) x Condition (C)

When young trees with less than a 6cm trunk diameter or less will be replaced by another tree, there will be no amenity value charge. The Auckland method is based on the method used by the City of Melbourne which was derived from the formula (by Dr. Peter Yau, 1990) of the Maurer-Hoffman Formula.

The basic monetary value of a tree is taken from the internationally accepted table of values devised by the American Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers and the International Society of Arboriculture, which in the base year 1988 was US$27 per square inch basal trunk area. When converted to a value corresponding to centimetres in trunk diameter at breast height (DBH) the Basic Monetary Value table has been updated to reflect more current monetary values.

Basic Value ($) is determined by matching the trunk diameter at breast height (DBH) with its corresponding base value:

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51-53 Albert Street ‘Saffron’/IHG Indigo Development

I don’t often write up individual resource consents outside my monthly Local Board reports but there has been enough public interest in the IHG Indigo hotel development at 51-53 Albert Street that I think it justifies its own post.

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Albert Street Frontage (Artist’s rendering from developer’s application)

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, the ‘Saffron’, 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. Continue reading

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Council Played for Saps with Closure of Public Toilet at 151 Queen Street

Brian Rudman has written a cutting and typically historically-informed piece on the closure of the Wyndham Street public toilets, part of the 151 Queen Street SAP building:  Auckland Council saps secretly remove Wyndham Street’s Loos

The opening says it all:

The old Fay Richwhite building at the corner of Wyndham and Queen Sts is called The SAP Tower these days.

The name seems strangely appropriate given the easy victory, the current owners, Robert Jones Holdings Ltd (RJH) have scored over Auckland Council in ridding themselves of the in-house public toilets.

RJH took the council planners for a bunch of saps and were not disappointed. The bureaucrats have agreed to the removal of the 24-hour public toilets abutting Wyndham St, and to the closure of the public walkway through the building — both without any public consultation.

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May-June 2018 Local Board Member Report

WLB logo croppedPurpose

This report covers my Waitematā Local Board Activities in April to mid-June 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 attended the ANZAC Day civic ceremony at the War Memorial Museum, on behalf of the Local Board, on 25 April with Member Avendaño-Christie
  • The application for 51-53 Albert Street (BUN60308038, LUC60308036, DIS60308037), backing on to Saint Patrick’s Square, to change the use of the building from residential apartments to part residential and part hotel use, reduce the overall height of the building, remove the consented basement with stacked car parking and relocate vehicle access to the site for service vehicles and taxis from Albert Street to St Patrick’s Square was considered by the Duty Commissioner on 2 May who determined full public notification. The applicant has indicated they will not proceed with this application. The applicant has submitted a new section 127 application. This application is the same as the application previously submitted but proposes the removal of all vehicle access to the site. More information is provided on this 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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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, it seems as though 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.

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Sadik-Khan at Times Square, New York. (photo credit: Olugenrophotograpy.com)

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.

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An example of the Sadik-Khan method. Note the movable barriers and use of paint; cheap to place and easy to amend. (photo credit: PBS)

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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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January-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. Continue reading

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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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