Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Mayor wants feedback

The past administration of the Auckland City Council started a multi-million renovation of the city center. It was a waste of money, because it was merely superficial... but they has to close major roads for several months just to put some new tiles and benches. Anyway, I won't go much into the local politics, but one of the main concerns lately, has been how our politicians take unilateral decisions with no support from the community. After the "stadium-gate" costed the reelection to the "cereal-mayor", the old Mayor returned to office, and now he's more careful to ask about the urban development of the city. So, now we have been asked to give feedback about the development in the Orakei Peninsula.

3 of the 4 proposed master plans are open to pubic feedback. There are no huge differences among them. Basically, just the ammount of residential units, and a building (or not) on the eastern side... and of course the cost for the council, ranging from "break-even" to 30 million. The style of the buildings is very conservative, most of them are typical "eastern Europe communist multi-family blocks of the 60's" but that's the main style of most of the buildings in Auckland anyway.
Auckland City Council and Redwood Group Ltd are preparing a masterplan for the area. There is potential for an integrated, mixed-use, residential development including a transport hub and more accessible public open spaces. Redwood Group exhibited initial plans at public open days in March and June, 2008. Opinion was divided on the height of buildings up to 15 levels. Discussions with interested groups led to a Mayoral workshop, convened by Mayor John Banks, to review options including one suggested by the residents' society. The council has agreed that the 15 level towers are "off the table". Three options, to a maximum of six or eight storeys, are being offered for community feedback prior to agreeing a final master plan. This will be the basis of a public plan change notified for consultation in the New Year. A review of the three options will be delivered to households in affected areas of the Hobson and Eastern Bays wards on 2 November.

The Orakei peninsula is a 7ha block of land edged by Hobson Bay and Orakei Basin. It has a number of owners including Redwood Group, the council and Ngati Whatua. It is currently used for a range of business and industrial uses while the central portion was quarried for the Hobson Bay rail embankment. The local community raised the need for a comprehensive masterplan for the whole area in preference to piecemeal development. To ensure a better-integrated design the council asked officers to open discussions with Redwood Group, as main landowner, to develop a masterplan for the area. Following discussions, the council entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Redwood Group to create a master plan featuring integrated public transport, significant residential development and modest amounts of commercial and retail development.

A number of goals were agreed including:

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