WINS AND LOSSES FOR DEVONPORT IN UNITARY PLAN
We have been wading through the Unitary Plan to work out the implications of the Independent Hearings Panel’s recommendations for Devonport.
Here’s what we’ve discovered:
1. Retain our residential heritage protection – A Win.
- Devonport’s heritage protection, formerly called Residential 3 Heritage Zone, is still very much in place and is now called a Special Character Overlay.
This means our controls on demolition as well as alterations and additions to pre-1944 houses remains strong.
In fact there is a section for the North Shore Special Character Areas that includes clear threshold limits for additions and alterations to insure they do not become demolitions which has been carried over from the old plan.
This means our strong protections continue under the new Unitary Plan.
(What the Panel has deleted is the pre-1944 overlays for areas OUTSIDE these recognised older suburbs)
- Front fences in these character areas must be kept at 1.2 metres in line with other heritage areas of the city.
- The older business areas of the North Shore will also continue to be protected under a Special Character Business overlay.
- A Loss:
The Independent Hearings Panel recommends that areas like Devonport, Ponsonby, Grey Lynn etc should not be called ‘historic character’. The Panel wants them to be called ‘Special Character’.
This is because they want the focus to be on the streetscape and amenity of an area rather than on the protection of older heritage buildings.
We want the Council to reject this and to continue to include the word ‘historic’ in these overlays because that is the reason for the extra protections.
We believe it makes it clear that the historic values of these older buildings and houses needs to be protected as much as the streetscape and the amenity of the area.
- A Win
The tip of Stanley Point is now back under the Character Overlay which means houses here are covered by the same heritage protections as the rest of Devonport. This includes the bungalow built and lived in by Gallipoli VC winner Cyril Bassett.
Only the land owned by the Spenser family is omitted from this protection.
2. Volcanic Cones - A loss (we think)
- There is one glaring fault in the Panel’s recommendations on the Height Sensitive Area which protects views of Mt Victoria from Devonport village.
We campaigned vigorously to reject the Devonport Business Association’s proposal to replace the 9 metre height limit with 13 metres for the village.
But the Panel has endorsed this idea and has included a plan that shows the extra height limit for most of the main business area. This will allow 4 storey high buildings in and around the main street and Victoria Road’s heritage buildings to have two extra storeys added to them.
Devonport’s HSA is the only one in the whole of Auckland to be treated in this manner despite Mt Victoria being considered a significant cone, one of the three gateway harbour volcanoes along with North Head and Rangitoto.
Yet the Panel made a totally contradictory decision on a similar proposal for the HSA for the Elizabeth Knox site on Mt St John.
In that case it decided that the resource consent process would be the best way of dealing with some sites where building through the HSA height limit would not affect views to the maunga.
This is exactly the same situation for the Devonport business area but the Panel has come up with two totally contradictory approaches!
It really is incomprehensible.
The situation is further complicated by the fact that the Council withdrew its support to change the HSAs for Devonport and the Elizabeth Knox site before the hearing began.
The Panel has either ignored or forgotten this.
So we will be calling on our North Shore councillors and others to leave the Devonport HSA at 9 metres so it is in line with all other volcanic cones of Auckland.
3. Fort Cautley – Loss
The Panel recommends that land at Fort Cautley now owned by Ngati Whatua should be given a 6 storey building height limit. This is the same as all the precincts on the North Shore now owned by Ngati Whatua.
We argued strongly that this height limit was unsympathetic to the history of the site and inconsistent with the surrounding residential neighbourhood.
We will continue to campaign to have the height limits in this highly historic area kept to lower levels so as to not compromise the heritage of the site and its magnificent views.
We will keep you informed of any new developments or discoveries.
Trish Deans and Margot McRae for Devonport Heritage