Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Volcanic view shafts to stay, for now

Auckland Council will vote on laws surrounding views of several Auckland volcanoes, including Mt Eden. Photo / Martin Sykes
Auckland Council will vote on laws surrounding views of several Auckland volcanoes, including Mt Eden. Photo / Martin Sykes

Auckland councillors have voted down a proposal to reduce or downgrade a number of volcanic viewshafts across the city.

The Auckland Development committee, which includes two members of the Maori Statutory Board, voted to retain some viewshafts to Mt Albert, Mt Eden and Mt Wellington and not downgrade others to One Tree Hill, Rangitoto and Mt Wellington.

The vote to reconfirm the council's current position on volcanic viewshafts will go to mediation before the independent hearings panel on volcanic viewshafts and height sensitive areas in the Unitary Plan.

The hearings panel will make recommendations on the view shafts in July for the council to make final decisions.

Officers had recommended reducing and downgrading 10 of the city's 87 viewshafts.
Viewshafts currently protect unimpeded views of Auckland's volcanic cones.

The body that oversees Auckland's volcanic cones strongly objected to the proposal to reduce and downgrade the number of viewshafts across the city.

The Tupuna Maunga Authority - the body with the statutory mandate to protect and manage Auckland's volcanic cones - said it had not been consulted by Auckland Council on the issue.

The Volcanic Cones Society had called on the council to take a pause on the issue until it has been properly thought out.

The society's Greg Smith said the viewshafts represent a huge public asset for council. He said the council was dealing with "well-trodden" land, which was the culmination of 25 years of analysis involving much public and in-house council input.

A report to the Auckland Development committee said that in August last year the committee supported a review of the criteria in the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan for regionally significant views, and the development of criteria for locally significant views.

Subsequently, the Auckland Unitary Plan Independent Hearings Panel directed a process of expert caucusing covering essentially the same matters.

The report considers the outcomes of the expert caucusing in relation to Volcanic Viewshafts and Height Sensitive Areas.

"In-depth analysis has highlighted some volcanic viewshafts that are no longer considered to be of significance and others that have local, rather than regional significance."

A new "local significance" category is being recommended by an experts group, accompanied by identification criteria and revised planning provisions, the report said.

The specific viewshafts proposed to be deleted are:

1. A11: Mount Albert from Fowlds Park

2. E04: Mount Eden from Balmoral Rd

3. E06: Mount Eden from Alberton House

4. E19: Mount Eden from the Southern Motorway

5. W06: Mount Wellington from Waipuna Road.

The Volcanic Viewshafts proposed to be retained with a lower level of protection are:

1. O10: One Tree Hill from College Rd

2. T08: Rangitoto from St Heliers Bay Rd

3. W13: Mount Wellington from West Tamaki Rd

- NZ Herald

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