The Nola development
One of the roles of the local board is to advocate for the interests and preferences of local people. As part of this we get notification of various resource consent applications and we get our chance to respond.
It is an important part of the job. Often we are the only locals who will hear about these applications before they are granted and diggers turn up to a site. Our intent is to make sure that local interests are respected.
The process is technical and time lines can be tight.
Often I will receive hundreds of pages of technical documents with a request that comment be received within a few days. No pressure …
Late last year I was given notice of the application to develop houses on the Nola Orchard property. The application was novel in that it was made under new legislation.
Last year the Government passed the COVID-19 Recovery (Fast-Track Consenting) Act 2020. The purpose of the Act was to help speed up resource consent applications that created employment while continuing to promote the sustainable management of natural and physical resources. The intent is that consents that contribute to employment are given a push.
The Act sets out various listed projects which are mentioned in the Act and which are given considerable support. It also allows for applications for other projects to be included. These are described as referred projects.
Expert consenting panels are to consider listed projects and referred projects and make a decision.
The process is truncated and notice to the public is limited. The Act prohibits a panel from giving public notification or limited notification of a consent application. There are a list of groups and environmental organisations which each panel must seek comment from. Others entitled to comment include affected persons. The public is not considered an affected person.
The test to be applied to applications under the COVID Recovery Act is different to those under the Resource Management Act.
Section 31 of the fifth schedule to the Act says that panel considerations are subject to Part 2 of the RMA as well as the the purpose of the Covid Act. I am not a RMA expert but this reference suggests that the panel may be more sympathetic to a referred application than Council would be if the application followed the normal procedure.
The local board was asked to comment about the Nola Development being added to the fast track procedure and our clear preference was that it should go through the normal procedure.
Our feedback was as follows:
We acknowledge that there is an affordable housing crisis in Auckland that needs to be addressed urgently. We also support in general the construction of Kiwibuild homes to address a clear shortfall in the housing market.
However we do not consider that use of the fast track consenting process is appropriate in the circumstances and submit that it would be more appropriate for the project, or part of the project, to go through the standard consenting or designation process under the Resource Management Act 1991 (see section 23(5)(b) of the COVID-19 Recovery (Fast-track Consenting) Act 2020.
The reasons for this are generally set out in Council’s planning advice but include the following:
- The land is zoned Residential Single House Zone under the Auckland Unitary Plan. This generally provides for development to “be of a height, bulk and form that maintains and is in keeping with the character and amenity values of the established residential neighbourhood”. This development would be of a unique scale for the area.
- We note Council’s preliminary view that the application should be dealt with on a notified basis. The fast track process should not be used to facilitate an application that should otherwise receive the benefit of public input.
- We have mixed views about parking requirements. Some of us are concerned that insufficient consideration has been given to carparks, particularly for visitors as well as the lack of provision for laundry services.
- There is some support for the community hub concept in the proposal.
- We are concerned about protecting provision of open space in the area, particularly for children. The development is opposite Parrs Park but this park is already heavily utilised. Also West Coast Road is busy and would pose a danger to young children trying to cross. As a suggestion there is a parcel of land being sold at 315A Glengarry Road adjacent to the proposed development and this parcel could theoretically be incorporated into the development to improve the level of open space.
- The implications for the local road system are significant. The development is on a busy road by a major roundabout. AT’s suggestion that all traffic should enter the site from Glengarry Road has some merit but would have major implications for other Glengarry Road residents as the Glengarry Road/West Coast Road is often congested, particularly in the morning and as suggested by AT some intervention may be required.
- Access to local schools is problematic and limited.
These comments are provided by way of local board feedback to a planning proposal. Some consideration will be given to the formal delegation but the time frame prevents this from being completed.”
The Minister decided however to allow the application to proceed on the fast track process. This means in my view a greater chance of success and a quicker less inclusive process. The Unitary Plan provisions are still relevant but there is a greater chance that this application will succeed.
As mentioned in our submission the property is zoned residential – single house zone. It is part of the very pale tan area below.
This is the definition of the zone:
“The purpose of the Residential – Single House Zone is to maintain and enhance the amenity values of established residential neighbourhoods in number of locations. The particular amenity values of a neighbourhood may be based on special character informed by the past, spacious sites with some large trees, a coastal setting or other factors such as established neighbourhood character. …
To support the purpose of the zone, multi-unit development is not anticipated, with additional housing limited to the conversion of an existing dwelling into two dwellings and minor dwelling units. The zone is generally characterised by one to two storey high buildings consistent with a suburban built character.”
Generally the minimum lot size for a property in the single house zone is 600 square metres. The proposal is that section sizes are much smaller than this are created.
The proposed development is not far from the Sunnyvale Train Station. My estimate is that it is about 1,400 metres away. Currently Auckland Council is working on an 800 metre distance as signifying an area capable of intensification and the recently announced National Policy Statement on Urban Development anticipates construction of apartment buildings of at least six stories in walkable catchment areas around a railway station.
I am all for affordable housing. It is crazy that we have a city where teachers and police officers and nurses, let alone cleaners and supermarket workers, can barely afford to buy a house. But the Unitary Plan attempted to design a city where intensification could occur adjacent to major public transport routes and this development is outside of what was intended.
Clearly from recent feedback there is a great deal of public interest in the application. The local board’s role will be to represent those views and urge the Panel to respect the unitary plan zoning that already allows for significant intensification in the area.