360 degree views are out

Howick Ratepayers and Residents Association’s (HRRA) call for 360 degree views from Stockade Hill has been rejected.

Last week the long-awaited decision on Plan Change 3 (PC3) Protection of the views from Stockade Hill was released on behalf of the Auckland Council by Independent Hearing Commissioners Robert Scott (chair), Heike Lutz and Angela Dalton.

Gayleen Mackereth, chair of the HRRA, said they were “extremely disappointed with the outcome, which did not go far enough, we believe”.

However there were compromises including a limited viewshaft and some restrictions as to property height restrictions.

According to the Commissoner’s statement: “The purpose of  PC3  was  to limit the height of development within identified properties in the Mixed Housing Urban zone immediately north of Stockade Hill to no more than 8 metres to ensure that views to the Hauraki Gulf (within the viewshaft arc identified) are maintained.”

“The Commissioners made a decision to ignore all HRRA’s evidence asking for, at  minimum, a much wider viewshaft,” Mrs Mackereth said.

Instead the Commissioners chose to maintain this narrow viewshaft  proposed by Council from Flat Island to the middle of Rangitoto.

“The Council’s landscape architect had identified the current limited viewshaft, as a narrow one from the Toposcope only, which  does not encompass the wider views from the top of the hill, nor the views approaching Howick by road along Ridge Road.”

The HRRA did succeed in getting the viewing height from the Toposcope reduced  to 1.5 metres (a woman’s height instead of the 1.7m man’s height proposed)  but failed to get consideration of the view from a sitting position .

This viewshaft replaces the current Crawford Reserve viewshaft from the base of the hill.

“The proposed viewshaft only partially limits a selected number of buildings to a frontage height of 8m, (see map with  dotted marking and line indicating the limited viewshaft) in keeping with the rest of the Cockle Bay zone,” Mrs Mackereth said.

“However we feel that the number of properties covered by this rule is minimal and buildings behind the  front ones  on the same section will still be able to go to three storeys.

“We have no protection  for the views to the other volcanic cones such as Mt Eden and One Tree Hill, Mangere Mountain etc and we have no protection for the views south towards Point View Drive as Ridge Rd is zoned for 12 metre buildings though the slope of the land will provide limited protection as the land falls away.”

She said the commissioner’s reason for rejecting the HRRA’s call for 360 degree views was that there was not scope in the Unitary Plan for the 360° views under the heading of Local Public View which was the criteria used.

“We say that our heritage has been completely ignored,” she said.

“Recognising this, the Commissioners pointed out the abysmal absence of protection of heritage and historical association in the Unitary Plan.”

The Commissioner found: “There is still an issue with the appropriateness and need to maintain a 360° view and how this would be achieved in the context of the Unitary Plan provisions given that the Local Public Views overlay is focussed on coastal views and maritime context only.

“We find that there may be case for investigation of a separate viewshaft in the future based on heritage views within the region, but this would need to be supported by a full heritage assessment of such values in support of such a heritage.”

So where to from here? The HRRA is committed to pushing forward.

“We are certainly not giving up the fight. We need community support and financial commitment,” Mrs Mackereth said.

“Our lawyer praised the tenacity of Howick Ratepayers and Residents Association saying that by taking the case to the High Court, we had forced the Council to bring in a viewshaft protecting marine views and that was a win.