Published: 4 September 2005
Auckland City Council moved on Friday to stop demolition of pre-1940 buildings in the Queen St Valley (top) & Karangahape Rd (below) precincts (maps show precincts in blue). This article runs in both the Queen St & K Rd sections of the Propbd website, but with some different illustration.
The council gave notice on Friday 2 September of central area plan change 5, character building demolition controls, and its provisions took effect that day, although they might be modified after consultation & submission. The proposal affects 140 buildings which aren’t otherwise protected.
A significant feature of the plan change is that endangered buildings & their proposed replacements won’t be assessed on their own, but as part of the streetscape. The council claims buy-in from developers for its proposal. Submissions close on Wednesday 5 October.
The plan change doesn’t affect the status of existing consents. Among those are the Bank of New Zealand’s plans to demolish the Jean Batten Building & adjoining 80 Queen St property to make way for a new Auckland bank headquarters, for which the bank has a demolition consent. The mayor, Dick Hubbard, said he was relying on negotiations with the owner to prevent that demolition from proceeding. The Art Deco Society has also appealed to the High Court against the validity of that consent.
The plan change will make resource consent applications in these 2 precincts a restricted discretionary activity and will empower the council to decline demolition applications where assessment criteria have not been met.
the extent to which the existing building contributes to the character of the area and whether its removal would detract from that character
the extent to which the building may be beyond restoration and its retention would therefore be an unreasonable burden on its owner
whether the building is part of a cohesive group of buildings of similar characteristics, and therefore its demolition would have an adverse effect on the shared contribution of the group to the character of the area
the extent to which the design of any replacement building acknowledges & contributes to the established character of the precinct. Under this assessment an application for the replacement must be lodged concurrently with the application for demolition or removal.
The council wants developers to submit plans to its urban design panel before they apply for resource consent to ensure their designs “will be in harmony with good urban design practices”.
Mayor says developers get more certainty
Mr Hubbard said it was “a good-news story & very much a front-foot exercise, another part of the pro-heritage plank that we’ve been promoting in response to the very clear message from the people of Auckland. This gives more certainty, more protection to heritage areas.
“This council cares, and cares deeply, about Auckland’s heritage, and Aucklanders have been crying out for better protection.”
Plan change 5 comes 3 months after the mayor & Cllr Caughey unveiled demolition controls for the city’s residential 1 & 2 character zones, affecting 16,300 homes, through plan change 163. “There’s been almost total & universal acceptance of the nature of those changesâ€¦. To stop the unannounced bulldozer arriving on the weekend to demolish houses,” the mayor said.
Current controls “fall well short of the mark”
Mr Hubbard said current controls on demolition were limited to scheduled buildings, buildings in recognised conservation areas (such as Princes St) & a general control on the demolition of buildings that require a resource consent, but don’t provide for the consideration of any heritage or character issues.
“The current controls fall well short of the mark in terms of what we want to protect & retain. This council is hugely aware of the valuable contribution heritage buildings make to the character & soul of the city in which we live. This proposed plan change recommends controls to ensure the character of Queen St & Karangahape Rd is maintained.”
He said the cut-off date chosen, at the start of the 2nd World War, reflected a change in the city’s building style & wartime lull in construction. Post-1940 buildings will still be subject to the existing demolition controls, but not the additional criteria.
“Setting this limit focuses on the influence buildings of this (earlier) era have on street character and provides a greater level of certainty to building owners of the development potential on particular sites,” Mr Hubbard said.
Caughey says move creates investment opportunity
Both the mayor & Cllr Caughey spoke of a move away from faÃ§adism, which Mr Hubbard said “some, including myself, cringe atâ€¦ It was somewhat overdone as a technique in the 80s or 90s.”
Cllr Caughey said that where a faÃ§ade is to be retained, its contribution to the street character would be assessed under the urban design controls. Any building above a faÃ§ade would “require a setback that actually talks to the precinct & the faÃ§ade, rather than being a glass monstrosity.”
She believed plan change 5, far from turning developers away from Auckland, would create opportunity for investment while protecting heritage: “There’s a place for both in the community. I think those who want to invest in quality investment will want to locate in Queen St & on Karangahape Rd.”
Cllr Caughey said development applications would go through a number of checkpoints, including assessment by council urban designers & the urban design panel, as well as being gauged at a political level.
Cllr Caughey said there had been “huge buy-in” from the appropriate professions to the greater controls introduced this year, and there was more to come. The 2 precincts named in plan change 5 were the priority areas, where work on heritage property has been done.
The mayor supported Cllr Caughey’s view that the controls would raise investment value in the city, not lower it, and he said financiers supported the changes: “My belief is that it will raise values. Obviously that’s a generalisation, but if you make the city an attractive place and a place people enjoy, then property pieces are going to reflect that.
“Queen St is not in a condition it should be in for a world-class city and we’re addressing that.”
Mr Hubbard said the question of whether the plan change was an infringement of property rights was a valid one: “There’s no suggestion of that from any of the people (financiers, professions, developers, other “stakeholders”) I’ve talked to.”
4 July 2005: Auckland heritage week 12-18 September
20 June 2005: Council notifies 8 buildings for heritage scheduling
3 June 2005: Council ushers in urban design details
1 June 2005: Public gets a role in advancing better urban design
1 June 2005: Enough of the appalling buildings, says Hubbard
27 April 2005: 912 buildings nominated for heritage scheduling
5 April 2005: 5 April 2005: Councillors hold up Hobson St demolition with theme of “heritage capital”
17 September 2004: Money allocated for review of Auckland’s special character zones
13 September 2004: Code writers close in on tiny apartments