Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Green light for 'monstrosities' challenged

38 Hackett St, St Marys Bay. Photo /Natalie Slade
38 Hackett St, St Marys Bay. Photo /Natalie Slade

Auckland Council architect Garry Glasgow is at the centre of a growing controversy about modern "monstrosities" appearing 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.

In the latest cases brought to the attention of the Herald, Mr Glasgow said a new house at 38 Hackett St in St Marys Bay was a "modern take on the local traditional special character" and a house at 74 Prospect Tce in Mt Eden was compatible with neighbouring villas.

Mr Glasgow also supported a modern house at 28 Arnold St in Grey Lynn - called a "vile blot on the landscape" - and supported a box-shaped modern house at 58 Hakanoa St in Grey Lynn.

A council officer who raised concerns about the design of the Hakanoa St house was replaced by Mr Glasgow, who supported it.

St Marys Bay resident John Field called the house at 38 Hackett St a "design monstrosity" and Mr Glasgow's assessment "hogwash".

"Where are any of the 'elements of scale, bulk and materials sympathetic to the traditional dwelling styles in Hackett St' to which he refers? There are none.

"Why is there no community review before these factory-like dwellings are allowed to materialise between our beautiful old cottages and villas," Mr Field said.

Albert-Eden Local Board chairman Peter Haynes said the new house at Prospect Tce might be elegant, but it detracted from a streetfront of villas.

He worried that a gradual replacement of old homes would reach the point where there was no point in preserving the character of heritage streets.

Council chief executive Doug McKay refused to answer the Herald's questions about Mr Glasgow and said they should be asked through the Official Information Act, a [procedure which can take months.

He said the questions could be used to attack Mr Glasgow's integrity.

Mr McKay was asked about Mr Glasgow's qualifications and experience on heritage matters, whether the council agreed with his call on Hackett St and a list of all new buildings in heritage suburbs he had assessed.

In the case of Hackett St, Mr Glasgow was given the case as a consultant on December 16, 2009 and completed a report the next day. He has since been hired by the council.

Heritage advocate Allan Matson said there was an expectation for new houses in the Residential 1 heritage zone to meet all of the design criteria.

"The house at 74 Prospect Tce, for example, maintains a scale compatible with others in the street as required, but could hardly be said to maintain the traditional pitched roof forms in the vicinity of the site.

"The house at 38 Hackett St does neither," Mr Matson said.

Auckland councillor Sandra Coney, who chairs the council's heritage advisory panel, has called for tighter rules on new houses in heritage suburbs, saying the council was not getting it right.

* Do you think the council is getting it right with new houses in heritage suburbs? Email newsdesk@nzherald.co.nz

FITTING IN - OR NOT

"The form, mass, proportion and scale of the buildings will be compatible with the original architectural style predominant in the street" - Heritage architect Garry Glasgow on 38 Hackett St and 74 Prospect Tce

Controversial calls by Garry Glasgow:

* 28 Arnold St, Grey Lynn
* 58 Hakanoa St, Grey Lynn
* 38 Hackett St, St Marys Bay
* 74 Prospect Tce, Mt Eden.

- NZ Herald

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