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

Committee’s report for AGM: 7 December 2020

It has been another purposeful year for the committee of the Grey Lynn Residents’ Association, complicated by Covid and its impact on our families and businesses, but we have kept busy throughout.

Planning issues

In August 2020 the GLRA appeared at the Proposed Plan Change 26 hearings. The proposed plan change was brought about by confusion over which rules should apply in areas within the Special Character overlay that are zoned Single House (significant parts of Grey Lynn have this combination of overlay and underlying zone).

Auckland Council had initially determined that the Special Character overlay rule would apply where there was a corresponding rule in the underlying zone, but inconsistencies in the wording of the Unitary Plan created confusion.

The matter was dissected in three Environment Court cases and the court ruled that Auckland Council’s interpretation of the rules was flawed, and that both the Special Character overlay rules and the underlying zone rules should apply. This made things as clear as mud.

Unfortunately, there was no quick fix. A report on the matter noted that:

It would not be appropriate to introduce a general rule that makes the overlay provisions always prevail over zone and Auckland-wide provisions. This would create issues when the overlay provisions are more permissive than their equivalents elsewhere in the plan, but the overall intent of the overlay is to be restrictive. In such cases the overlay is not meant to enable particular activities where there are other reasons for a zone to restrict that activity.

(Coombes and Williams Overlay Analysis Report, December 2018)

So, a number of amendments were needed to clarify the rules and this is where Plan Change 26 comes in. Many of the provisions in the proposed plan change would result in rules that closely resemble the original Residential 1 rules from the former Auckland District Plan, though there are also other changes.

GLRA supported the intent of the plan change to clarify the rules, but raised concerns over several matters. We expressed significant concerns about the decision making process with regard to notification, demolition, and there being no consideration of neighbours’ amenity in granting consents.

Since the Unitary Plan came into effect we have seen many instances where consents have been granted without any consultation with affected parties, be they close neighbours or the wider community.

We were also concerned about rules which allow planners to approve the demolition of up to 30% of original built fabric when they may lack the necessary experience in the heritage field to properly assess such applications. The lack of any consideration of amenity values of neighbouring sites in the Special Character overlay rules (despite this being a consideration in the Single House zone rules) was also worrying.

Given that houses within the overlay are often built close together, the effects of additions and alterations on neighbours’ amenity can be significant and this should be considered. We felt that these matters should be addressed in Plan Change 26.

We also urged Council to undertake a heritage survey of streets in Grey Lynn that are not currently covered by the Special Character overlay, so that other parts of Grey Lynn that exhibit the same intact character may be included within the overlay.

Our submission also noted that Council had done an appalling job of communicating with the public about the proposed plan change – letters sent to residents living in Special Character areas were extremely technical and hard to understand.

For council to meaningfully consult with residents, they need to ensure that the information they provide is clear and easy to comprehend and we hope they will do a much better job with future consultations.

After submissions were lodged, we heard from the Herne Bay Residents Association (HBRA) who are just one of a number of local groups we correspond with on matters of mutual interest.

The HBRA submission raised the issue of access between buildings for maintenance. They pointed out that as existing buildings are often very close to side boundaries in Special Character areas, any new development should take into account the need for adequate space between buildings to allow painting and other maintenance work to be carried out.

This is not something that had occurred to us when we lodged our submission, but it was another good point that we raised at the hearing.

Our presentation was well received by the hearing commissioners and we await news of the decision on this matter.

Huge thanks are due to Tania Mace and Graeme Burgess for their expert work here.

Home St Reserve upgrade

After near eight years lobbying and despite Covid-19 WLB budget cuts the upgrade is currently progressing with groundwork almost completed. Thanks to David Batten for his constant pressure over this matter.

David wishes to thank WLB member Adriana Avendaño Christie, who continued to advocate to advance the project into the new board term and under continued political pressure from parties whose projects were deemed by them to be more worthy.

Reimagining Great North Road, a community-led initiative

The engagement of an urban design and landscape architecture practice to produce the document visualisations marks a near ending of this project, leaving formatting for WLB and public consumption then presentation to the board and interested parties.

The project is likely to come in slightly under budget.

Many thanks to David Batten and to Brandon Wilcox, for their contribution to the production under somewhat trying circumstances.

David Batten thanks fellow GLRA and WLB board members for their fortitude and patience during this time.

Website and Facebook

The website has been well used and maintained by Brandon Wilcox, with a number of blog posts on key issues during the year. David Batten has maintained our GLRA Facebook page as well as the page Arch Hill Matters. Thanks to them both.

David reports that over the last 12 months both Facebook pages have shown positive growth in likes: GLRA +22 to 516; Arch Hill Matters +28 to 381

Top 4 combined reach / engagement:

  1. 23 September, Felling of the Macrocarpa on Defence Force land Great North Road. 6,849 people reached / 1,351 engagements
  2. 11 December 2019, Predator Free Grey Lynn. 347 people reached / 29 engagements
  3. 29 March, Grey Lynn Shout-out for health workers. 332 people reached /111 engagements
  4. 11 October, Thirsty Bees in Arch Hill. 325 people reached / 22 engagements

Brandon reports that over the last 12 months the website has averaged 2,200 visitors each month. The three most popular blog posts in the last six months were…

  1. Plan Change 26 – which rules apply in Special Character areas?
  2. Paid Parking Coming to Grey Lynn – and Why We Support It
  3. Keeping up with the Cohaus

The top 10 most visited pages of all time are…

  1. Fatal Dog Attack in Grey Lynn Park – Malamute or Husky + Woman Owner [blog post] Brandon reports it gets 7x more traffic than our home page!
  2. Home page
  3. Residents Parking Grey Lynn – Locals Slam Proposal; AT Backs Down [blog post]
  4. Residential Parking Zones Proposed for Grey Lynn & Arch Hill [blog post]
  5. Controversial Arch Hill & Grey Lynn Residential Parking Zone Confirmed [blog post]
  6. Contact Us page
  7. Residents Parking Zone Grey Lynn & Arch Hill Goes Live 7 December [blog post]
  8. Grey Lynn Heritage Zone – Rule Change Wanted By Auckland Council! [blog post]
  9. Committee Election – Update 5 [blog post]
  10. Submission on Proposed Changes to the Waitemata and Gulf Ward Boundaries [blog post]

We have 352 email subscribers and our average open rate is between 50% and 61%.

Felling of the macrocarpa tree on Defence Force land – Great North Road

On 23 September David Batten was contacted by two residents concerned that the tree was being felled. He reports:

“On investigation it was found that the given deterioration of the split and forked trunk it was being removed. There was some concern that another landmark tree was being felled and while the felling was unfortunate it was also the best option despite lack of engagement by the Defence Force with the community given its historic importance.

“This piece of land was identified by Arch Hill Residents Society as of significance for community development and discussion with WLB member Greg Moyle (NZ Territorial Force Major) at the time re its development as a pocket park. It was also identified early-on during the consultation process of the Reimagining Great North Road – community lead initiative under the auspices of the GLRA as a potential green space given the potential encroachment of high-rise. The draft plan for this document has been tabled and adopted by the GLRA.

“The removal of the tree has removed any perceived road-blocks to progressing the change of status of the Defence Force land in question.

“As part of my advocacy I have been in regular contact with the relevant WLB member and have sought and received responses from the Minister of Defence and our constituent MP. I have also had unsolicited contact by our local city councillor as to how to get the land on a green-space schedule for potential purchase.

“Regardless of perceived GLRA board policy on this matter (which to my knowledge has never been stated) I will continue to advocate for my community based on the results of their engagement with this community initiative.”

Arch Hill / Grey Lynn paid parking

David Batten reports: “We continue to be periodically advised as to submissions. A Great North Road bus, cycling, and safety improvements consultation is soon to be advised.”

Cycleways – Waitemata Safer Routes

The community has now got used to living with the new streetscape on Richmond Road in the vicinity of the West Lynn shops. It is at present unclear when remediation work of the more dysfunctional elements of the construction will commence.

Western Isthmus Stormwater and Wastewater Upgrades Community Liaison Group

Paul Shortland has succeeded Alan McCullough in attending these regular meetings on behalf of the GLRA and we are very grateful to him. The GLRA attended the AGM of SASOC, the pan-Auckland community coalition formed to put pressure on Council and Watercare to escalate work that would out an end to sewage overflows into the harbor. We supported that organisation becoming an incorporated society.

It is pleasing to know that the Western Interceptor will reach Grey Lynn by 2025 and that Coxs Bay will be swimmable by 2028 but post Covid, Council budget cutbacks are going to reduce the pace of much needed system upgrades elsewhere.


A stand-out initiative for the year is the new GLRA newsletter. Three newsy, informative newsletters have gone out to date, very ably edited by Jessica Fowler and with the assistance of Brandon Wilcox and David Batten. This newsletter is an idea way to connect, communicate and inform and to build membership.


The Association does not charge a membership fee and its only income is from the sponsorship of the website, which covers its hosting and support costs. We have ended the year in a fiscally neutral state. A financial report will be presented at the meeting. Many thanks to the Treasurer/Secretary Jamie Hosking for managing our finances during the year.


Penny Sefuiva stepped down from the committee this year due to the pressure of other involvement. We are grateful to her for her efforts on behalf of the community.

Thanks are due to all the GLRA committee members, who have worked so hard this year for the neighbourhood despite their own busy working and family lives.