Published 5 February 2007
Jurisdiction: Auckland City
Applicant: Burton Custodians Ltd (John Baker & Duarne Lankshear of McLeod Group)
Application: 16 Burton St, to convert 42 residential parking spaces at the Luna apartments to leased commercial parking spaces
Recommendation: Council planning consultant Lee Marr recommended non-notified consent
Decision: The council’s planning fixtures committee decided on 30 January to notify the application after councillors expressed concern at the potential precedent of transferring parking from residential use stipulated for an apartment development to parking leased to commercial users.
Application detail: The property has 250 basement parking spaces for 122 residential units, and 54 of the spaces are already leased for commercial use under the original 2003 consent.
The original consent provided for 6 levels of apartments above 2 basement parking levels, one with 125 spaces and deck level with 121 spaces, of which 192 were allocated to the residential units.
The remaining 54 spaces were leased to tenants of Newcall Tower, above the apartment site on Khyber Pass Rd.
A redesign produced 4 more parking spaces, while the number of apartments was reduced to 121 when 2 units were combined.
The district plan requires 1.5 parking spaces/apartment â€“ a total 183, giving a 13-space excess. Burton Custodians wanted to hand 55 spaces over to commercial lease, leaving the residential allocation 42 short.
The council caught itself out in the original consent by allowing the residential units to be sold with or without a carpark.
The Burton Custodians application stated: “The owners & occupiers of the apartment units only require or have purchased 141 carparking spaces of the 196 spaces that are available.” Burton said it had offered the remaining 55 spaces to the apartment owners & occupiers for lease or purchase, but they remained unused.
The application added: “Should the parking needs of the apartment owners change, they will continue to have the opportunity to lease the 55 parking spaces proposed to be commercial use in this application.”
Planning fixtures committee chairman Faye Storer said the committee’s decision could have far-reaching consequences throughout the city, so recommended notification.
According to the council planning report, “The current allocation of parking spaces on site appears to adequately service the needs & requirements of the current occupiers & owners of the residential units. It is noted that the site is located relatively close to the cbd and is within walking distance of a number of services & facilities, including public transport systems. As such, the requirement for private vehicles in this area may not be as high as expected for such a residential development.”
While staff & the planning consultant were happy with the proposed arrangement, Cllr Christine Caughey wasn’t: “I haven’t seen any analysis (in a 16-page report) of what parking is like in that area,” she said, in a lead-in to a discussion on the possibility that residential tenants could be priced out of parking.
Told the council’s traffic engineers said “If the residents hadn’t taken up parks they considered they weren’t required”, Cllr Graeme Mulholland commented: “There’s a big difference between taking up a carpark and taking up an offer to purchase at $45,000.”
Told further that the developers were only required to provide parking on a needs basis, and they would argue no need had been demonstrated, Cllr Glenda Fryer retorted: “It’s not about need. It’s about money.”
Cllr Storer agreed, saying the price would make a big difference and the council hadn’t anticipated this issue in its parking assessment.
Cllr Fryer said the precedent was a concern: “The prices that will be set will be set by commercial imperatives. The residents will have to pay the same top dollar as the commercial lessee.”
But city planning group manager Penny Pirrit told the committee: “A decision on notification has to be based on the parking generated (by the site). I do not believe you can make your decision on how much they’re being charged for a carpark. That’s a separate issue.”
Cllr Fryer wanted to know: “Is this an anomaly, or is this something that happens around town, they don’t buy the park?”
Cllr Mulholland: “I see it’s anomalous here because most of the applications we’ve approved will have a park assigned to an apartment.” However, he added: “All 246 carparks are in fact commercial because they’re being sold based on the open market. What I’m concerned about is that we require under our operative plan 1.5 carparks. In other locations some have 2, some have one. Basically, now, the developer has said, â€˜I’ve got the parks, do you want one at a commercial price?’ I don’t see that the traffic generated or the parking (in the area) has been adequately covered (in the report).”
The committee will decide to notify an application against staff advice, but Cllr Storer said it would normally not decline an application â€“ its practice is to allow an applicant to withdraw & reconsider.
She believed this situation hadn’t been anticipated: “I don’t want to say it’s a loophole. It could have far-reaching effects throughout the city.”
Applicant’s other interests: McLeod Group also developed the Citta apartments at the corner of Khyber Pass Rd & Symonds St, where it had another contentious application, for dispensation from the billboards bylaw to incorporate 2 (originally 4) billboards on the walls, using sections of the faÃ§ade designed to incorporate the signage. The council declined that application on the grounds of cumulative effect, “as the size, scale & location of the billboards will dominate, and in turn affect the character & architectural quality of the subject building.”
Attribution: Council committee agenda & meeting, story written by Bob Dey for this website.