5000 Auckland heritage sites lose protection under new Govt rules

Source: 1News

Auckland Council looks set to remove special character protection for up to 5000 homes in a bid to intensify housing.

As the Government tries to fix the housing shortage it's requiring local councils to allow even greater intensification.

Environment Minister David Parker says under the new National Policy Statement on Urban Development and the Medium Density Residential Standards, some blanket protections in Special Character Areas will be removed.

"We're carrying forward all heritage protections for individual properties that are listed.

"We're just not allowing blanket protection across whole suburbs."

READ MORE: New Zealand’s oldest prison granted top heritage listing

Mayor Phil Goff says Auckland Council was given little choice but to rezone certain areas under the new rules.

"We're hoping we can provide protection for 15,000 heritage homes in our special character areas... if we go beyond that then we're likely to lose more than we gain."

Senior lecturer at Auckland University's School of Architecture and Planning, Julia Gatley, says the plan aims to protect areas with the largest concentration of character homes.

"What they have tried to do is identify the areas that have groups of character homes, to try and protect the ones that are cohesive as areas."

But isolated buildings will be given much less protection.

"The character can still be retained through those areas, through the cohesive collections."

The changes will affect a quarter of the 20,000 buildings currently given heritage protection.

Character Coalition spokeswoman Alex Dempsey says the affected sites are a visual record of the city's history and development.

"They have a very high collective value."

She, and other heritage campaigners, believe freeing up land in multi-million dollar suburbs won't result in affordable homes.

"Intensification, is a must, of course, but the problem is that if you do it in these zones, what you will do is destroy for very, very little gain."

Troy Churton, an Ōrākei Local Board member says preserving character homes won't impact the future Auckland housing supply.

"Over 90 per cent of the central areas of Auckland including Remuera are already zoned to enable medium density housing."

Changes to the city's unitary plan will be notified in August.