Back From Orakei Presentation

Special Character Zones – Are Go


Well – that is, the concept is now being worked on.


Note: Waiting for Unconfirmed Minutes of last night’s Orakei Local Board meeting where two resolutions were passed in regards to Special Character Zones, and for the Minutes to be adopted at the next OLB meeting. 

Note (2): Edited to reflect changes


Last night I attended the Orakei Local Board meeting where I gave my presentation on the Special Character Zones and the Centralised Master Community Plan (PRESENTATION TO ORAKEI LOCAL BOARD). The meeting was pretty well attended with quite a few residents there in attendance as well. After the presentation concluded I was in the “hot seat” for a spell taking questions and comments on the proposal, as well as hearing the concerns of the idea’s main stumbling block – the Council Governing Body (that is the Councillors themselves (Councillor Cameron Brewer was present last night but he knew the point I was raising)).

My thanks to Desley and the Orakei Local Board for your time last night. Very much appreciated with the idea now out there and being heard. 


In short from the Orakei Local Board’s view, the SCZ and CMCP idea is a sound one although needing work. I did remind OLB that: “By no means however; am what I proposing final. It is a working draft presented to Orakei Local Board so that they can flesh these two concepts out and develop a robust planning mechanism that while suited to their communities but still taking its fair share of the load as Auckland grows” (From my presentation paper (embedded below)). I did catch a couple of particular questions that did stand out last night that I will reflect on here:


Using the term ” taking its fair share of the load as Auckland grows.”


In light of further discussion and feedback, I am dropping the term “fair share of the load” from the presentation papers and all posts. A more sensible term is “well designed urban development” which is what the Special Character Zone and Centralised Master Community Plan would be better envisaged. That is “well designed urban development” via CMCP which allows local oversight to their communities and centres evolving as Auckland evolves through the life of the Unitary Plan


The Special Character Zone and Centralised Master Community Plan over wider Auckland.

This was a two prong situation in which two answers were given. The first was on efficiency while the other was on the concept over wider Auckland. In regards to efficiency (that is if Council adopts this sixth zone which the OLB believe would be a good idea recognising a heterogeneous Auckland) it would be wise for all 21 Local Boards and the Governing Body to work on the application of the Special Character Zone and Centralised Master Community Plan together and at the same time. This would pool resources and keep costs down in establishing the SCZ framework. It should also stop a hodge-podge effect across the city if the 21 Local Boards decided to undertake the SCZ work at all different times 😛

In regards to the SCZ-CMCP concept applying over wider Auckland. What I did not mention as the situation has only struck me now is that if the SCZ-CMCP concept kicks off a situation where many centres are bidding for an SCZ (this would be argued that all centres are and have special character that is different from the centre next door) it would kick off one of two things:

  1. Tightening the three-prong thresholds per page four of my presentation paper that would allow a centre/place to become eligible for a SCZ
  2. Kick off the wider Centralised Master Community Plan AND Semi-Liberal Plan District model of planning per my Auckland Plan submission. If this were to occur then an entire rethink of our planning processes would need to happen as the CMCP and SLPD concepts as a whole would be incompatible with the wider Auckland and Unitary Plans.

The Governing Body – The Stumbling Block

It was raised by OLB Chair Desley Simpson that the Governing Body would be the main stumbling block to the Special Character Zone implementation. That is the 21 Local Boards could all develop these Special Character Zones and Centralised Master Community Plans all ready to go, only for the Governing Body to reject and bury the entire work and concept. What would stop the Governing Body and their central planners burying the entire concept via the Unitary Plan.

I could not give an answer to that. I do know the hostilities of the Governing Body in regards to larger changes to the Unitary Plan. The Manukau Second CBD Concept is bound to annoy planner Penny Pirrit to no ends of the Earth as upgrading Manukau to a City Centre (from Metropolitan Centre) would force a re-write of the Unitary Plan and a change in thinking of our planners. Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse would be reluctant on the Manukau idea due to “opening a can of worms” but, has allowed my May 14 presentation. The Special Character Zone would introduce a sixth zone to the Unitary Plan that would kick off a re-write as well.

However I am not here to pander to planners ego’s nor councillors getting stuck in the mud. The SCZ concept is being touted forward as part of the submission work to the Unitary Plan to make the UP more robust and responsive to our needs. The UP works for us, not us work for it as would be currently conveyed. And if that means planners and councillors burning the midnight oil to do a rewrite of the Unitary Plan because of concepts such as the Special Character Zone and the Manukau Second CBD concept, then so be it. We want a Unitary Plan reflecting our values and needs, not showcasing someone’s ego over in the CBD!

I did tell Desley though if it comes to shove then one might need Central Government to come over the top of the Governing Body in order to get changes through reflective of the community. A rather blunt instrument to use but, one needs all the tools to protect one’s community.

All in all though it was a robust session with the idea/concept now to be fleshed out both at Orakei Local Board and by the looks of it wider Auckland. This is good news although I do admit it is a long road ahead to see Special Character Zones becoming reality via the Unitary Plan.


St Heliers Update

I had a conversation with a couple of people from St Heliers after my presentation. They noted my blog post on the St Heliers meeting that I attended last month and the tension in the room. It was brought to my attention that St Heliers is wanting to take its fair share alongside wider Auckland as the city grows. But, and understandably development that is reflective of the St Heliers suburb (and centre) (so of character) but something wider Council and the planners have failed to grasp. I know Council and their planners have failed to grasp this both in St Heliers and across wider Auckland through the Unitary Plan. If the opposite were to occur I would not have the amount of commentary on the Unitary Plan as I do now! The real reason for the tension at that particular meeting came from St Heliers being roughshod by Council (and the old Auckland City Council) over a long period of time with planning and development for St Heliers that has happened in the past. St Heliers fear that the Unitary Plan will roughshod them again and I can very well believe that particular concern from St Heliers.

It is a main reason (as I said last night) why the Special Character Zone was “born” and the Centralised Master Community Plan brought back again. To give the Local Board and their communities a tool (and the actual recognition) to allow development and growth reflective of their “special” character. The Local Boards are responsive to their communities where the Governing Body is not (and never can be). If the SCZ-CMCP does kick off a wider trend where many communities and their “centres” all vie for SCZ’s then it would be the time to relook at my wider CMCP and SLPD methodologies as those two methodologies would be more suited than the SCZ concept.

So exciting times ahead although the road will be long and full of potholes. But an idea has been born, grown some legs and has gone for a run. In saying that though the next move will fall to the Governing Body…


The Special Character Zone and Centralised Master Community Plan

(edited to reflect comments last night, and also carrying a “poster” at the back as I move to a more professional stance with Unitary Plan work)



BR:AKL: Bring Well Managed Progress

The Unitary Plan: Bringing Change

Auckland: 2013 – OUR CITY, OUR CALL