Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Residents ready to revolt as 4 storeys become 7

367-375 Great North Road.
367-375 Great North Road.

An Auckland developer appears to have council support for a seven-storey apartment building in a four-storey zone that could set a precedent for greater intensification across the city.

Greer Stephens says council officers have indicated they would look favourably on an application for a seven-storey apartment building at Great North Rd in Grey Lynn on condition it was of a higher quality design.

Mr Stephens originally presented a five-storey proposal with 20 apartments, which has become a seven-storey proposal with 30 apartments that exceeds the height restrictions by about 8m and is double the allowable floor size.

The proposal has outraged Grey Lynn and Arch Hill residents who want to see Great North Rd become a showcase for inner city intensification with a mix of apartments and small business complying with a four-storey height limit in the draft Unitary Plan.

Keith Milne, who has lived in a villa next door to the Great North Rd site for 19 years, said the council was ignoring the rules and corrupting the process by supporting a 23.5m building when the height limit was 15m and doubling the floor size in the district plan.

The maximum height in the proposed Unitary Plan was 16.5m, he said.

"What's the point of having the district plan or the Unitary Plan. We may as well throw them out the window if officers are just going to do what they want," he said.

Grey Lynn Residents' Association spokeswoman Liz Hancock said: "We want Auckland Council to stick to the rules and notify the application."

The case is also ringing alarm bells with Auckland 2040, a movement opposed to haphazard suburban development, which is concerned that council officers are actively encouraging developers to circumvent planning rules to pursue an agenda of greater intensification.

Council officers pushed for greater intensification in the original draft of the Unitary Plan but these goals were scaled back by councillors after howls of protest last year.

The latest draft of the Unitary Plan has come under fire from groups like Generation Zero, developers and drawn a cabinet-approved submission from Environment Minister Amy Adams for the council to encourage more intensive development in areas of high demand.

Council chief planning officer Dr Roger Blakeley refused to comment on officers' alleged role in looking favourably on the Grey Lynn development.

Nor would he discuss the wider implications for three, four, six, eight, 12 and 18 storey suburban building height limits set across Auckland in the draft Unitary Plan.

A council spokesman said it was the practice for options to be raised with developers at pre-resource consent application meetings but no commitments had been made to the developer.

Mr Stephens said the council should be encouraged to use its discretion to ensure better quality design and amenity outcomes for residents, which came at considerable extra cost that needed to be offset by increased intensification.

He said his proposed building did not shade or effect the views of residential neighbours, was set back further from neighbours than required and the upper two levels were set even further back to minimise privacy issues.


How high is too high?

• Developer plans 7-storey apartment building in Grey Lynn.

• Council indicated it would look favourably at 7 storeys in exchange for better design.

• Current and proposed height limit in Unitary Plan is 4 storeys.

• Residents favour intensification based on 4 storeys.

• Concerns this could set a precedent for greater intensification.

- NZ Herald

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