Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Mt Eden residents fear for city history

Rachel Tynan feels a bit guilty owning a 970sq m section close to the city, but the thought of her 1912 villa being demolished or carted off for townhouses is beyond comprehension.

Tynan understands the need for intensification, but not at the expense of losing the history of Mt Eden.

Under the plan for intensive housing close to town centres, scores of villas and bungalows near Mt Eden village have been rezoned for townhouses and small-scale apartments.

"I understand we are fortunate being here on big sections so near the city when people are being pushed further out," says Tynan.

"But if someone came and lifted these homes off there would be an uproar. They are beautiful homes and part of what Auckland is."

The Fairview Rd resident would happily give up space at the back of her section for infill housing, but that is not possible.

Another resident on the same road, Judy Ashby, also sees the need to build more houses on big sections in a desirable suburb like Mt Eden.

She, too, found the thought of demolishing her home - an 1895 villa-turned-bungalow she and her husband, John, have lived in for 27 years - quite distressing.

It would provide more houses, she said, but radically change the amenity and mix of villas, bungalows, infill and sausage flats.

Trees would be lost, there were no plans to increase green space, traffic would get worse and it would not reduce house prices, Ashby said.

Harcourts Mt Eden real estate agent Mike Robson said the jury was still out on the impact of the Unitary Plan locally, but believed prices in the leafy streets that have escaped intensification would rise in value.

Land values in the rezoned streets would increase depending on how many houses could be built, he said.

Across Auckland, about 84,000 villas, bungalows and other old properties covered by a pre-1944 demolition control and character status have been whittled down to about 23,000 properties with character status protection.

Character Coalition spokeswoman Sally Hughes said the recommendation to drop the pre-1944 demolition control opens the city up to ad hoc development that will destroy the character that makes it unique.

Main changes to heritage and rules

• About 84,000 properties covered by a pre-1944 demolition control overlay and character status have been reduced to about 23,000 with special character status

• The pre-1944 demolition control overlay has been deleted

• Historic character status has been replaced with a lesser special character status where focus is on streetscape character rather than protection of historic heritage

• Historic heritage is limited to significant and identified scheduled places

• Council has discretion to approve demolition or removal of a house in a special character area based on factors including condition, effects on the streetscape and design of a new building

- NZ Herald

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