Property editor of the NZ Herald

Ryman scheme too tall, bulky, visual wall: court appeal

Every building except one exceeds height limits - court appeal
Protestors outside the hearing, held in Takapuna in December. Photo/Jason Oxenham
Protestors outside the hearing, held in Takapuna in December. Photo/Jason Oxenham

Ryman Healthcare's new Devonport retirement village is too tall, too bulky and will be a visual wall of buildings, opponents say.

An Environment Court appeal lodged this week by the Devonport Peninsula Precincts Society spells out the basis of the case, citing adverse effects of building bulk, scale and overall dominance of the planned scheme.

Simon Challies, Ryman managing director, this week responded to the legal challenge by vowing to build.

"We are obviously disappointed the consent for our new Ngataringa Rd village has been appealed, but we remain absolutely committed to building in Devonport," he said.

Richard Brabant, a Vulcan Lane-based specialist RMA barrister, is acting for the society and filed an eight-page appeal against consent for the six-level village, granted on January 17.

The reasons for the appeal are "the significant adverse effects of building bulk, scale and overall dominant character of the development. The village as a collective design is not cohesive and the overall scale, bulk and wider dominance effects create a visual wall of buildings detached from the background context.

"The approved design will not integrate well within the Ngataringa Road streetscape or its Waitemata Harbour coastal context.

"The bulk, scale and overall dominant character of the development will be clearly visible from the southern side of Ngataringa Bay, including Ngataringa Park, which creates adverse visual and dominance effects. The approved design will not protect neighbourhood amenity," the appeal says.

Ryman's image of its planned village, as it might seen some distance from the site.
Ryman's image of its planned village, as it might seen some distance from the site.

"The approved design fails to carry through the street pattern between Ngataringa Peninsula and Devonport which results in a lack of restraint, proportion, connectivity and integration with the wider environment and neighbourhood. The existing and proposed planting is insufficient to screen the significant adverse visual and dominance effects of the village," according to the appeal.

"The approved design creates a separation of the village from the street and neighbourhood resulting in dominating building walls and inappropriate outdoor spaces; and the buildings individually and cumulatively create wider dominance and visual effects that are more than minor.

"The proposal is contrary to objectives and policies of the Auckland Unitary Plan. The proposal is contrary to policies and assessment criteria of the Devonport Peninsula Precinct Plan," the appeal said.

Every new Ryman block proposed except one would exceed the Devonport Peninsula Plan height limits, it said.

"The building design does not ensure an appropriate building height transition to the residential built form of the locality. The development as proposed does not ensure a mix of building height as viewed from streets, public open spaces and external boundaries of the site.

Opponents of the Ryman scheme have now lodged their court appeal. Photo/Jason Oxenham
Opponents of the Ryman scheme have now lodged their court appeal. Photo/Jason Oxenham

"The development as proposed does not establish an integrated built form that is in keeping with the residential form and function of the existing streets and open space. The village presents an ill-fitting mixture of buildings in composition, height, mass, materials and spatial relationships. Specifically, the village's higher buildings have not been designed to reduce dominance and bulk," the appeal said.

"The design of the development does not ensure a mix of building heights or variation of built form when viewed from streets, public open space and the adjoining residential locality.

"The Devonport Peninsula street pattern and residential neighbourhood are concealed and blocked by the visual wall of buildings. The proposal does not integrate with or form a contextual relationship to the urban structure and suburban context.

"The village appears to maximise and exploit the opportunity of its site rather than enhance its coastal setting," the appeal said, adding that the relief sought was to overturn last month's consent granted by planning commissioners and for the Environment Court to refuse consent.

When Ryman won last month, it said it was pleased with the decision, "and we know that the more than 300 residents we already have on our waiting list will be even happier".

"We are really looking forward to bringing much-needed care to the Devonport community and this is an important step along the way," the company said.

"We will be working through the detail of the panel's findings, so it is too early to talk about possible timeframes to start work."

The 4.2ha greenfields site owned by Ngati Whatua Whai Rawa is at 7-37 Ngataringa Rd, 1-88 Wakakura Cres and 29 Lake Rd, between Devonport and Belmont, overlooking Ngataringa Bay.

- NZ Herald

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