Auckland Council has notified Devonport residents by letter of a proposed plan change which seeks to “clarify the relationship between the Special Character Areas Overlay (SCAO) and the underlying zone provisions in the Auckland Unitary Plan”.
This proposed change is referred to as Plan Change 26 and relates to Chapter D18, special character areas overlay - residential and chapter E38, subdivision - urban of the Auckland Unitary Plan.
Residents have the opportunity to make a submission on this change. The deadline for this is 28 June (this has now been extended by 2 weeks to the 12th July). Details here on Auckland Council website with the online form to make a submission accesses here or you can download a form to complete and post.
As a background, this proposed change is the direct result of the blunder brought to light last year when hundreds of resource consents were found to be invalid. The heart of the problem outlined at the time was that the rules for the underlying Single Housing Zone (SHZ) as defined in the Auckland Unitary Plan which applied broadly across Auckland was found to be in conflict on specific matters to the Special Character Areas Overlay (SCAO) that is in place to protect the special heritage of suburbs in Auckland such as Devonport. Each of these sets of ‘rules’ had differing metrics and there was no clear instruction as to which prevail. The fact was that applicants and planning consultants had to assume that the most stringent rule should apply from both the SCAO and SHZ.
The Council now wish to solve this anomaly and propose that the SCAO prevail. This may seem simple and expedient, however this decision has significant implications that could affect the heritage of Devonport whilst seeming to protect this heritage.
There are 2 key issues that are judged by Devonport Heritage to be critical (i) Height in relation to boundary and (ii) the rear yard setback.
Height in relation to boundary
This rule seeks to impose a restriction on the side and rear boundaries of any new development such that a building cannot exceed an envelope described by an imaginary line which rises 2.5m or 3m from the boundary line and then inclines inward to the section at a 45 degree angle. The diagrams below describe this rule.
The SCAO rule for height in relation to boundary defines the envelope based on a 3m vertical height and then a 45 degree incline. This is far more imposing than the standard of the SHZ for all of Auckland which is based on a 2.5m vertical height and then a 45 degree incline. The outcome of this proposed more lenient rule is that building can be built higher with great bulk and visual impact with the 3m @45 degree envelope as the diagram shows.
Rear yard setback
There are boundary limit for side yards in the SCAO which require that no building is less than 1.2m from the boundary. However for the rear yard the proposal is to reduce the current 3m boundary to just 1m. This has a significant visual impact of new building as seen from neighbouring properties.
The diagram below shows for the same sized building the impact of building within the original 3m setback.
A very important consequence of relaxing the 3m setback for the rear yard is the impact it could have in areas of Devonport where sections near corner junctions have rear yards adjacent to side yards as the diagram below shows.
Property A is on a different street to property B & C. Property A’s rear year abuts the side yard of Property C, whilst the side yard of Property A abuts the rear yard of Property B.
Property C would be significantly impacted if the 1m rear year rule were to apply as any proposed building would be hugely more visible from the garden of Property C, also potentially impact daylight shading.
The ability to build as close as 1m from the boundary to a neighbour’s side yard would have significant impact on the value and enjoyment of a neighbours property even it is in their back garden.