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Update 4 October
We held a very successful public meeting on Wednesday 3 October, with more than 350 people attending. The proposed development has clearly hit a nerve in the community, with strong concerns over the proposal, particularly regarding the massive height and bulk of the buildings.
The meeting outlined the proposed development and what it would look like, and then looked at what benefits and adverse effects it would bring to the community. It was highlighted that while the proposal would result in much improved buildings and the quality of the retail space would dramatically improve, the floor area available for retail and hospitality would be substantially reduced. The development would add 100 apartments, but at the cost to the community of a reduction in public facilities.
In addition, the height and bulk of the buildings would totally dominate the beach and reserve, and in fact would be dominant from all over the suburb. We presented a series of before and after photos to illustrate the visual impact from a wide range of vantage points.
Our planning lawyer, Gill Chappell, outlined the resource consent process. She also addressed the very real potential that approval of this development would likely set a precedent that would make it difficult for the Council to decline similar height breaches in the future. That would likely result in a wall of tall buildings along Tamaki Drive and indeed almost anywhere. She also talked about the importance of maintaining Unitary Plan integrity. We have just invested huge time, effort and money into creating a Unitary Plan which supposedly sets out the rules for development to ensure Auckland develops in a coherent and attractive way. These rules must be defended and exemptions allowed only in truly exceptional circumstances or else the entire Plan is undermined and becomes meaningless.
We encouraged everyone to make a submission to the Council, and showed how to do this very simply. We also encouraged everyone to join the Mission Bay Kohimarama Residents Association to be kept informed.
You can view the presentation slides here.
Update 13 September
The application for resource consent has now been publicly notified. The clock is now ticking on submissions, which are due in by 10 October.
You can view the application on the Council website here. Since the developer is breaching the height limits for the zone, he has to demonstrate that there will be less than minor adverse effects arising from this. The key documents where he tries to make this case are the "Landscape Visual Effects Assessment" and "Urban Design Assessment" documents. In those you will see how he views Mission Bay as having little natural character right now, and it is all going to be built up to 4 stories anyway, so the development won't have much impact.
Our initial goal is to try to ensure as many people in Mission Bay and surrounding suburbs are aware of the proposal and the impact such a massive 8 story development like this this will have on the suburb. To that end we are planning a public meeting for 7pm Wednesday 3 October at the Selwyn College Theatre. By then, we hope to have analysed the application and have graphics which show a more representative view of how the development will look from around the area. We will also explain how the resource consent process will work and how we can help you make a submission. We will let you know more about the meeting over the coming weeks, but please mark it in your diary and let your friends know about it.
You will see a number of photo montages on the Council site which purport to represent what the development will look like from different vantage points. The developer has tried to be obscure the fact that the development will stand out like a sore thumb by taking photos with a very wide angle lens (17mm) which makes everything look further away, and which makes the incremental impact of the development appear correspondingly smaller. If the photo montages were based on photos with a 50mm lens which is close to how a human eye sees things, the impact of the new development would be huge. Read the fine print at the bottom of each photo; the optimum viewing distance when the photos are printed on an A3 sheet is typically just 100mm. if you are looking at these on a typical computer screen you would have to almost touch your nose to the screen to meet the developer's guidelines, and if you are looking on a phone or tablet, you would have to cut off your nose and trim your eye lashes to get as close as recommended! That is how much he is trying to distort our perception to make his project look better.
Update 6 September 2018
The application for resource consent has been submitted to the Council, but has not yet been accepted or publicly notified. Before it is publicly notified the Council must first go over all the documents submitted and ensure that they meet all the requirements for a complete application. They will then formally accept the notification and have it publicly notified. At that point, you will be able to find it on the Council website and make a submission, and the 20 working days submission period starts.
We expect the application to be publicly notified within the next 2 weeks, although we have no specific knowledge of exactly when.
We have been able to get access to some of the application documents which provide greater detail of how the development would look. The graphic below is a view from Tamaki Drive.
The proposed development viewed from Tamaki Drive. The red line represents the maximum height for occupiable space allowed under the Unitary Plan.
Now that we can see drawings and renderings of the proposed development, we can see that it is proposed to be 28m tall, not the 22m announced in their press release. For reference, that is slightly taller than the nearby norfolk pine on Selwyn Reserve.
Under the Unitary Plan zone rules, the maximum allowable height for occupiable space is 16m, and so the development is almost double the allowable height. It does make us wonder what the point of all the effort of creating the Unitary Plan was if it is just going to be ignored.
We should emphasise that we are not against development of this site. The current buildings are generally of poor quality, run down and very ugly from the rear. We would love to see a high quality development of this site, and we see no reason why such a development could not be designed within the rules.
The Mission Bay Kohimarama Residents Association will be following this resource consent application closely and will advise members once it is notified. We plan to hold a public meeting before submissions close to inform the public of the proposal and the implications for the suburb and beyond. This meeting is likely to be in the first half of October, depending on when the application is notified. We will also be advising our members how they can make their own submissions, and perhaps offering some ideas on legally effective submission points.
We have engaged a planning lawyer and will potentially engage other specialist skills such as a planner and urban designer as required, to help us prepare the most effective submission we can.
Update 17 August 2018
Request for help – Proposed development Mission Bay
At this point we have very little new information to report. The resource consent application was due to be filed with the Council this Wednesday, but we can't confirm whether this happened or not.
What we can say, however, is that the Mission Bay Kohimarama Residents Association is very concerned about the height and bulk of this proposal and its impact on the community, and is therefore preparing to make a submission against the proposal. We note that an 8 level development is much higher than is allowed under the Unitary Plan, andwould tower over Mission Bay. To help visualise the height, we believe that the height would be almost to the top of the Norfolk pine at the eastern end of Selwyn Reserve.
We are reaching out to our members to see whether anyone would be able to help us with some of the specialist skills required to prepare a submission, such as Planners, Lawyers in the RMA area, Urban Designers, or graphic artists who are prepared to help us. We are also looking to establish a team to lead our campaign, and would welcome people who feel they could help in this capacity.
If you feel that you could help us prepare a compelling submission, please contact us.
The process for resource consents is (slightly simplified for clarity):
- The process is initiated when the developer submits the application to the Council
- The Council then reviews the application to check that it meets their requirements. This could take anything from a week to 3 weeks or more. Once it is considered an acceptable application, it is accepted.
- At that point, the developer will publicly notify the application as required by Council.
- The public then have 20 working days (4 weeks) to make a submission.
- The Council's reporting planner will review the application and submissions and prepare a Hearing Report which is sent to all submitters.
- If issues have not been resolved to all parties' satisfaction, a public hearing will be held in front of 3 Independent Hearing Commissioners.
- A decision to approve or decline the application will be made.
Submissions are most effective when they address specific requirements of the Resource Management Act and the Unitary Plan. The Residents Association therefore would like to have access to expert planners, urban designers and RMA lawyers helping to prepare. We are assembling a team to lead this process. We would welcome people who could assist us in any of these areas.
Update 12 August 2018
Many of you will have seen Saturday's announcement about a $200M development proposed for the Mission Bay restaurant area. Here is a link to the Herald article.
While we like the idea of any development which would enhance our community, our first look at this proposal indicates it will have massive negative impacts on both neighbours and the community as a whole. The fundamental issue in our mind is the proposal for a building or buildings of up to 8 levels high. It doesn't really matter how such a building is designed, it will be totally out of character in an area which is currently predominantly 2 storied, and zoning which anticipates 4 stories. It should be noted that the height of the buildings will be well over the allowable height in the Unitary Plan.
Auckland has just been through a long drawn out process to arrive at the Unitary Plan, and now the first significant mixed-use development in the area wants to totally ignore the rules established in that plan. It really makes us wonder why we spent millions and millions developing the Unitary Plan if developers are simply going to ignore it and ask for whatever they want, then use their greater financial capacity to override the wishes of the community.
A resource consent application is to be filed this Wednesday, after which there will be public notification to allow the community to have their say. We will await further details, but at this point believe that any proposal for an 8 story building is totally inappropriate in this location.
The developer's press release has preceded the resource consent filing, presumably to try to build some public support for a project they know will be difficult to push through. We understand that they want to create the most favorable impression they can, but we do expect them to present honestly without attempting to mislead the public. In this case we take exception to several statements they make.
"The project has been designed to ensure that its scale and intensity is suitable for the iconic location…"
This is simply not true. An 8 story building would be seriously out of character in this location, ignoring the context of the existing environment and walling off the community from the beach and foreshore. In our view, this would have a substantial negative impact on the local community and is inappropriate. Saying it is suitable does not make it true. You can judge for yourselves.
"Community interests were a priority"
If community interests were a priority, then the developers would have worked with community organisations such as the Mission Bay Kohimarama Residents Association during the design phase. Instead, we have been ignored, the design has been fully developed without local input, and local community groups have been left to find out about the project by reading the Herald. That does not sound like a genuine concern for community interests.
"The site's Business – Local Centre zoning allowed for more intensive mixed-use development than had previously occurred"
It is true that the Local Centre Zone allows for more intensive development than was allowed under the previous zoning rules. However, the developers presumably make this statement to imply that the development is allowed under the new Unitary Plan, but this is blatantly untrue. This development is not consistent with the Local Centre Zone rules and at 8 stories is very much higher than the 16m inhabitable height allowed.
"The buildings' height will peak at eight levels or 22 metres"
This height is way above the allowable height of 16m for the zoning under the Unitary Plan, but we are suspicious that it could go higher again. 22m does not seem enough for 8 levels of high quality development, being under 3m for each level, and so we would not be surprised to see an amendment to increase this.
"Urban Partners requested [the resource consent application] be publicly notified"
This statement is intended to make it look as though they welcome public submissions. In reality, for a project which violates the planning rules as much as this one, it was almost certain that the Council would require it to be notified. By asking for it to be publicly notified, the developers have simply reduced the amount of time from when the project is first announced to when the public have to respond.
We are not sure of the process and timeline just yet, but will let you know as we learn more. The resource consent is to be filed on Wednesday, and presumably notification to affected parties and the public will be made shortly thereafter. At that point, the public will have 20 working days to respond either supporting or opposing the development.
What can you do?
If you don't like the idea of an 8 story development here, then please make your views known.
- Initially, you can email the Orakei Local Board to help them understand the depth of feeling on this. Their email address is RLBOLogin@aklc.govt.nz , and you can email them now to help them decide whether they will support or oppose this project.
- You can also post messages on Neighbourly, Facebook and other social media immediately to try to ensure everyone is aware of what is planned.
- Talk to your friends about this. Encourage them to join the Resident's Association if they want to keep up to date.
- Once the resource consent application has been notified, then you can make a submission directly. We will advise how to do that at the appropriate time.