Report for AGM 2015

Chair’s report for Annual Meeting: November 30 2015

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

Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan (PAUP)

The GLRA’s extensive submissions on the Draft AUP resulted in a flurry of invitations to hearings with the Independent Hearings Panel (IHP) throughout the year. Like most residents’ groups across the isthmus, there were so many of these and the timetabling was so onerous that we simply did not have the time to attend them all and so we prioritised them based on the key issues for our neighbourhood: intensification, zoning and heritage protection.

The Association is 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. We owe these three a huge debt of gratitude. We attended hearings on the important topics 079 and 080 – special character – where we mounted a strong case for the value of heritage and historic character. We also wrote a detailed submission to the Productivity Commission on this matter.

This issue has taken many twists and turns since, but we feel we played some part in ensuring that full heritage assessment of every Grey Lynn street was carried out and the outcome was that the inconsistencies of zoning that put some very fine streetscapes at risk have been removed, the pre 1944 heritage overlay which gives some protection (albeit weak) to heritage has been applied almost universally throughout, and the entire core of the suburb has been zoned single housing. The situation is still very fluid, as recent media coverage shows, and we will not know whether this designation will stick until the new year, when new zoning maps are released. We have indicated that we wish to be heard at that time.

Meantime David Batten attended and spoke at the hearing on heights in local shopping areas – very important for us give that the Surry Crescent and West Lynn shops abut residential areas.

Little Grocer site, corner Peel and Richmond

We supported the residents in their battle to have this application rejected by making a submission to Council.

Great North Road

Council’s designation of this ridge as a Special Housing Area (SHA) under the PAUPs is having a 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 this in mind, we approached local architect Daniel Marshall, who very generously had his staff conduct a study to show where these buildings would throw their shadows across Arch Hill during winter. This report is now with Council, and it is hoped that this will be taken into account when officers are looking at further consents for new buildings.

It is amazing to us that residents have had to do this and that it was not one of the very first things that Council planners did before they rolled out the SHA designation on that ridge.

Waitemata Local Board (WLB) member Vernon Tava has responded to our concerns about Great North Road by asking the Council’s urban planning team to write a concept plan for the road, from the intersection with Ponsonby Road through to the Surrey Crescent shops. It’s an appealing plan which includes installing wider footpaths so that street-level cafĂ© and bars and retail could operate and the street could become an attractive boulevard. However it is only an early concept and not at all binding. We remain very concerned that the buildings are going up before this plan can be put into place and the opportunity to do something terrific will be lost.

Annual plan

Earlier this year the Association hosted a public meeting at the Grey Lynn Library Hall, where WLB members spoke to the Auckland Plan (in short, the major regional and local projects budgeted for the coming year). About 60 people attended.

Grey Lynn Park

We made very detailed submissions on the plan for the park which was signed off by the Waitemata Local Board a couple of months ago. We were disappointed that not all our suggestions were adopted and also concerned that some things we expressly disagreed with remain in the plan. However we have to accept the process.

We continue to lobby officers to improve the standard of maintenance in the park, with better levels of weeding and gardening, but it seems a battle to achieve this when budgets have been cut.

We have expressed to the WLB our concern that the proposed pump track is not in the right place in the park. The track will be an absolutely fantastic local facility, but not there, one of the few remaining flat areas of the park where it’s possible to have an informal game of cricket/ volleyball etc and where people have been doing that very thing for decades.

We have also been 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 are concerns about cyclists riding at speed and colliding with children./prams/ dogs on leashes etc. We had concerns that the layout and approach was too aggressively commuter-focussed. Auckland Council has taken this much of this on board and adjustments have been made. We won’ know how successful the plan is until it is installed.

Skypath

The Association submitted in favour of this cycleway across the harbour bridge, believing it would be widely used by Grey Lynn residents.

Surrey Crescent Shops

We are currently working on 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 have 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 have 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.

Planning advice to locals

We have been called on to support several local residents this year over concerns such as the removal of houses and construction adjacent to them. To this end we have developed an easy-to-follow ten-step guide to the planning process so that residents have clear notion of what their rights are, what the developer’s rights and obligations are, and how to get redress through the system – if redress is available. We hope that this will give local residents some comfort and some sort of an action plan. It can be bewildering to be faced with a development next door. It will be on our website shortly. Many thanks to committee member Kris McPherson for her work on this.

Website

Our website was clunky and unattractive and a bright new one was developed, thanks to Brandon Wilcox.

Grey Lynn Survey

Our biggest initiative of the last 12 months is saved for last. This is the professionally conducted survey of residents of Grey Lynn to find out what they are concerned about and what they care about. The results were in many ways not that surprising: Grey Lynners love this suburb and care deeply about protecting the ‘Grey Lynn way of life’, in all its facets. They worry about intensification and higher density, they want to protect the heritage character of our streets of Edwardian houses and they want Grey Lynn to maintain its lively, cruisy, tolerant and diverse atmosphere. We will be discussing the results of the survey at the meeting and the full text will go up on our website shortly.

We thank the WLB for a grant which enabled us to carry the survey out. And we especially thank the wonderful Carol Gunn, local resident, whose research expertise means that the report is of the highest order.

Thank you

As acting chair I wish to thank my fellow committee members: Dan Salmon (our very able chair until recently, and now treasurer), Jamie Hosking (our very able secretary), Brandon Wilcox, David Batten, Kris MacPherson and Warren Wood. All these people have very busy work lives and are active in other community and voluntary organisations. The Association has been involved with and achieved a great deal this year, and it is a huge credit to the committee members that they could both find the time and make the commitment. They do it because they love Grey Lynn.

Nicola Legat
Acting Chair
November 30 2015

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