Auckland Council chief executive Doug McKay has defended the work of council architect Garry Glasgow, who has approved modern-design houses in city heritage suburbs.
Mr Glasgow has approved the design of at least four new houses in inner-city heritage suburbs, each of which he said was sympathetic with surrounding traditional villas and bungalows.
One of them - a double-rectangular house at 38 Hackett St in St Marys Bay, was described by neighbour Adrian Duff as sticking out like "two pimples on an otherwise lovely landscape".
The other three houses at 28 Arnold St, Grey Lynn; 58 Hakanoa St, Grey Lynn; and 74 Prospect Tce, Mt Eden have also attracted criticism.
Responding yesterday to questions originally submitted on May 21, Mr McKay said Mr Glasgow was a registered architect with 40 years' experience. Mr Glasgow had worked as a consultant heritage architect for the former Auckland City Council until 2009 before being employed by the Auckland Council in July last year, where he works in the heritage department. The public could have confidence in his work on new houses in character suburbs.
Mr McKay would not say whether he agreed with Mr Glasgow's expert opinion on Hackett St and whether it met the criteria for new houses to be compatible with the original architectural style in the street and not ignore, compete with or dominate that character.
"My responsibility is to ensure proper process backed up by the right expert advice. My personal opinion on issues of design is irrelevant," he said.
Mr McKay said he had no problem with Mr Glasgow being given the job of assessing the Hackett St design on December 16, 2009 - when he was working as a consultant - and completing the job in 24 hours.
He said Mr Glasgow had been involved in earlier pre-application discussions and was required to do the work in one to five days. He would not say how much Mr Glasgow was paid as a consultant.
The Herald plans to take the issue to the Ombudsman, who is reviewing a decision by Mr McKay not to reveal how much Brooke Dales, the consultant planner who sealed the fate of a 130-year-cottage at 18 Paget St, was paid for that job.
Council documents leaked to the Herald show that between last July and January Mr Dales, a former Auckland City Council planner, was paid $95,488 for various work - more than most council planners earn in a year.
Doug McKay Q AND A
* May 21 - Herald asks a series of questions about Garry Glasgow and 38 Hackett St.
* May 23 - Council puts the questions through the Official Information Act process.
* May 28 - Herald reports that Doug McKay has put questions through the act.
* May 29 - Mr McKay writes to the Herald saying questions will be answered in 20 days.
* June 13 - Mr McKay says some questions are for opinion, not official information, and will not be answered.
* June 14 - Mr McKay answers most questions.