Devonport Heritage has decided to stand firm in the face of a threat to claim $21,150 in Environment Court costs from the society over the Masonic Hotel case. We believe the costs are an unreasonable imposition on a community group which has spent 22 years campaigning to protect heritage in Devonport. Recently Baycorp have been actively pursuing the society over the unpaid amount.
On 9 May our spokesperson and Deputy Chair Margot McRae presented our final Unitary Plan submission to a panel of Commissioners. Our evidence supports the retention of the 8 metre HSA( Height Sensitive Area) for Devonport Town Centre.
We reject the proposed amendment that allows almost half of the HSA in the Town centre to be 13 metres. This conflicts with the whole intention of an HSA and is simply not warranted for a town/maunga relationship as important as Devonport and Mt Victoria/Takarunga. We are especially concerned about the lack of assessment of the effects of the proposed amendment. Insufficient evidence has been provided that a 13 metre height limit will not affect the views of the mountain. Expert caucusing between two landscape architects and a member of the Devonport business association, and a walk around Devonport is not enough to justify the dramatic downgrading of Devonport’s HSA.
The fact is that reasonable development can occur in the town centre through the normal resource consent process. There are sites where greater heights will not impede views, but the correct avenue for proving this is through the non-complying consent process. If it’s shown that the extra height will not interfere with cone views, then there is no reason why it shouldn’t be approved.
In his rebuttal Peter Raeburn for Auckland Council supports the retention of the non-complying status for HSAs generally as the ‘best way of ensuring adequate attention is given to the prospect of adverse effects’. So he considers it the best method for other HSAs but not for Devonport.
The argument for increased heights is in fact based on an attempt to reduce consent and compliance costs for future development. Basically to make is easier and cheaper to go up.
Should we lose views merely to allow developers to keep their costs down?
In Summary - The Unitary plan process has become a debate about intensification – and the Devonport Town centre seems to encapsulate this. This intensification fever has gripped council and the planners and completely overtaken the whole process.
Yes to intensification - but not at any cost.
Local community groups are the only ones standing up and saying ‘the price is too high’! Devonport and the HSA is a prime example of this. But it applies across the city.
Our volcanic cones that are so unique to Auckland must be sacrosanct. Surely in this great Auckland Supercity of the 21 century there must be room to better acknowledge, celebrate and respect the enduring connection between this maunga and this little town.
The very name Takarunga translates as "Hill Standing Above", and that is how it should remain.
For further reading please refer to documents on our Downloadable Resources page