Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Vision of fear for city's heritage

Lobby group releases pictures of how it thinks suburbs could look under Auckland's Unitary Plan.

This Character Coalition image claims to shows what Sandringham's Cambourne Rd could look like under the Unitary Plan but the council disputes this. Photo / Supplied
This Character Coalition image claims to shows what Sandringham's Cambourne Rd could look like under the Unitary Plan but the council disputes this. Photo / Supplied

Auckland's heritage character is under threat from apartments in half of residential Auckland, says the Character Coalition.

The group, comprising 58 heritage and community groups, has commissioned images to show the impact of small and high-rise apartments on the city's built heritage.

They include before-and-after images of the seaside village of St Heliers - one of the hotspots for opposition to a new planning rulebook - and the effect 18-storey apartment buildings would have on Papakura's Selwyn Chapel, built in 1862.

Character Coalition spokeswoman Alex Dempsey said the group supported staged intensification after heritage assessments and local plans had been developed from the community up, not the top down.

She said that would lead to greater acceptance of intensification and be better than zoning half of residential Auckland for three-storey apartments and higher in other zones.

"It only takes one such development to ruin an attractive street and potentially degrade the property values of the rest of the street where people may have purchased for the heritage character," she said.

One image prepared by an architectural student for the group shows a five-storey apartment building on the corner of Sandringham Rd and Cambourne Rd backing on to a row of 1920 wooden bungalows. A council spokesman said the two images were flawed, saying the corner of Sandringham and Cambourne Rds was zoned for single houses with a maximum height of 8m.

The buildings in the Papakura picture, he said, would fail to meet the form and design quality in metropolitan centres, adding that the building in the background was too long to be permitted under the rules.

The council did not comment on the St Heliers images.

The release of the images follows heated debate about what is allowed in the "mixed housing" zone covering 49 per cent of residential Auckland.

After nine weeks of telling Aucklanders the maximum height of "small-scale apartment buildings" was two storeys, the Auckland Council has admitted the height limit is three storeys. Mayor Len Brown yesterday held a "very constructive discussion" with the Character Coalition and the Auckland 2040 lobby group, saying he agreed with much of what they said, in particular taking a balanced approach to development.

The Herald has asked Mr Brown under the Official Information Act to release details of the mixed housing and terrace housing apartment zone prepared by a political working party that meets behind closed doors.

• Feedback on the unitary plan ends on May 31.

Visit: www.shapeauckland.co.nz

- NZ Herald

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