• 03 Te Rimu sculpture
  • 02 Great North Road Grey Lynn Mural
  • 01 Our Hood

Chair’s report for AGM December 2016

It has been another very busy year for the committee of the Grey Lynn Residents Association, which has had several key issues to address during the year…

Auckland Unitary Plan (PAUP)

The hearings process took up a great deal of the committee’s time in late 2015 and early 2016. We prioritised our engagement based on the key issues for our neighbourhood: intensification, zoning and heritage protection.

The Grey Lynn Residents Association was extremely lucky that the two chief architects of our original impressive and expert submissions, Tania Mace and Liz Hancock, agreed to continue to represent the interests of the Grey Lynn community. In this this they were ably supported by local architect and heritage expert Graeme Burgess.

When, at the eleventh hour in early 2016, the Independent Hearings Panel (IHP) made a sudden lurch and redrew major swathes of the planning map, upzoning many streets in our neighbourhood (and almost all of Westmere) from single housing to higher density (mostly allowing for three-storey townhouses), we called a public meeting to let the residents of the affected streets know and to hear their views about these ‘out of scope’ changes. These streets were: Gilbert, Sefton, Rona, Tuarangi, the very end of Schofield, Maxwell, the northern side of Francis, Fisherton, the northern side of Allen, Wallingford and Old Mill Road. In most cases, the change of zoning made almost no sense.

We went back to the IHP with the residents’ views. We were not the only neighbourhood group to cry foul but alas when its decision was finally released in July, the upzoning had not been removed and the pre-1944 heritage overlay, which had given a modicum of protection against widespread removal of original residences, had been removed. The Council subsequently then accepted the panel’s recommendation in so far as Grey Lynn is concerned. Despite the disappointment and dismay and uncertainty that those residents quite justifiably must now feel, by presenting quality submissions to the panel (and by supporting intensification, but not at the expense of heritage streetscapes) we did ensure that a full heritage assessment of every Grey Lynn street was carried out, that the inconsistencies of zoning that put some very fine streetscapes at risk were removed, and that almost the entire core of the suburb (the streets above excepted) has been zoned single housing.

Little Grocer site, corner Peel and Richmond

We supported the local residents in their battle to have this application rejected and were very sad that the battle was lost at the Environment Court, despite their having a very a strong case. We acknowledge the stress, time, anxiety and money this has cost a small group of local people and find it very hard to understand how and why they were put in this situation. If a precedent has now been established about what can happen in a Res One zoning, then all Aucklanders should be concerned.

Great North Road

Council’s designation of this ridge as a Special Housing Area (SHA) under the PAUPs is having an immediate and discernible effect, with a raft of tall apartments either built or under construction as the land-bankers cash up. It is disturbing to see that the recommendation for heights of no more than four storeys is regularly exceeded by developers, with Council sign-off. Because it is an SHA, locals have no right to oppose. Given this, a detailed plan for Great North Road is now critical so that it does not deteriorate into a shady wind tunnel and through-expressway with no life at street level.

With the encouragement and assistance of Local Board member Vernon Tava, we successful applied for $10,000 in funding from Council to undertake a community-endorsed plan for Great North Road. The parameters for this, which we were obliged to agree to, are, in our view, onerous for a local group but we have nonetheless accepted them because the matter is so pressing and because a poor outcome would be so regrettable.

Work will begin on this shortly, ably led by committee members David Batten and Brandon Wilcox. Our vision includes installing wider footpaths so that street-level café and bars and retail could operate, that there are verandahs at ground floor level, and plenty of street trees, and that the shading envelopes onto the southern side of the road and across Arch Hill (especially in winter when a four storey-plus building will throw a long shadow) be taken into effect when planners consider applications from developers.

Annual plan

Earlier this year the Grey Lynn Residents Association hosted a public meeting at the RSC, where WLB members spoke to the Auckland Plan (in short, the major regional and local projects budgeted for the coming year). About 20 people attended.

Grey Lynn Park

We have had a meeting with Local Board member Rob Thomas and local resident Paul Wacker about the imminent pump track. We are reassured that the new scope of the track will not unduly restrict ad hoc usage of that very important flat area of the park.

We were also in close contact with Auckland Council re the proposed greenway / cycleway through the park. Given that it overlays the main park along its entire course there were concerns about cyclists riding at speed and colliding with children/prams/ dogs on leashes etc and that the layout and approach was too aggressively commuter-focussed. The path seems to be little used by cyclists at this stage and so no concerns that we are aware of have arisen.

Surrey Crescent Shops

We made a submission to Auckland Transport on the proposed relocation of bus stops and various other traffic-calming and pedestrian safety initiatives at this shopping centre. It is very important to Grey Lynn that these local businesses thrive, and we had concerns that AT sees it as a major bus throughway, not a place that is important to locals and business owners. Brandon Wilcox and David Batten represented the GLRA at various meetings on the matter. It is a fine balance between ensuring that barriers to use of public transport are not thrown up yet local shops have access to the short-term car-parking that reflects the quick pick-up-and-go nature of much retail there.


We made a submission to Auckland Transport on the various proposed cycleway routes through Grey Lynn and Westmere, and in particular their impact on Dryden Street, where AT is proposing some very odd traffic calming methods.

Planning advice to locals

We have been called on to advise several local residents this year over concerns such as the removal of houses and construction adjacent to them.


A bright new website was designed, thanks to Brandon Wilcox.

Local government election

In September we held a very well-attended public meeting at the RSC. Almost all the local board and council candidates attended and the evening, which followed a novel format, was revealing and lively.


Thanks are due to the Grey Lynn Residents Association committee members, who have worked hard this year for the neighbourhood, despite their own busy working and family lives.

Nicola Legat