News, Views, and Information from the Historic Village by the Sea this June!
Hello and welcome to this month’s account of what has been happening in the wonderful historic seaside village of Devonport.
The Draft Unitary Plan and its implications on Devonport
Much has already been said on the draft Unitary Plan so I’ll focus my comments on how the plan will affect Devonport. Generally I am very supportive of the Plan and I like that it takes a very long term view of Auckland, developing a picture of what the city will look like over the next 30 years. It does not propose that suddenly multi storey buildings will pop up in our neighbourhoods overnight. Clearly sufficient infrastructure will need to be in place before significant development takes place. The Plan seeks to concentrate development around existing town centres with good (or potentially good) infrastructure, such as access to public transport, local shops and public amenities. Devonport would meet these criteria, with its ferry service to the city as well as great shopping and community services all centred on a compact main street. The maximum proposed height of buildings on the Devonport area would be16.5 metres and that would only apply within 250 metres of the town centre. Clearly Lake Road is an infrastructural problem that is not going to go away. Before intensity of development is even considered, Council needs to face the fact that we cannot leave Lake Road as it is. It must be two lanes each way from Belmont corner. It would make sense for the inside lanes to be bus and T2 (min. 2 passengers per car) lanes, thus facilitating a more efficient and viable public transport option. My personal opinion is that some of the land at 27 Lake Road be set aside as a ‘park and ride’ facility for commuters and workers in Devonport. All of the long term parking in the town centre could then be converted to short to medium term parking for shoppers and visitors. We would then get our roads and car parks back which would greatly enhance the appearance of the village.
I firmly believe that raising the bar on the requirement for excellent design, together with the use of high quality materials and construction techniques, is far more important than focusing on the potential number of stories in new buildings. Consider Paris as an excellent example of superbly designed medium density buildings. Contrast this to the abysmal design of the apartment buildings bordering the Newmarket train station. I know which I’d rather live with.
Finally, under the draft plan, heritage buildings are to be protected, which is essential. However, many commercial building owners have a huge financial problem on their hands with regard to earthquake strengthening their buildings. The last thing we want to see is buildings left to go to rack and ruin because the owners cannot afford to upgrade them. One reasonable solution may be to allow owners to construct another storey on top of the existing buildings, well set back from the road side façade, as an offset to the cost of upgrading.
The Prime Minister calls on Devonport
A number of community representatives were invited to accompany the Prime Minister on a recent walkabout along Victoria Road. Members of Devonport Heritage discussed with him the unique historic character that is Devonport and the PM was invited to a quick tour of the Vic Theatre. Members of the business community highlighted the amazing potential of Devonport as Auckland’s jewel. We also pointed out the risk a heavy handed approach by the Government, on the earthquake issue, would have on the commercial buildings in the main street.
The Prime Minister, accompanied by our local MP Maggie Barry, looked to be thoroughly enjoying himself, taking time to talk to locals and share in a bit of the everyday life of Devonport. In fact he seemed in no hurry to leave. It was very encouraging to see him take the time to engage with the people and listen to us talk about the opportunities in Devonport.
Business Association Annual General Meeting
The annual general meeting is scheduled from 6.30pm on Wednesday 12th June at The Devonport Yacht Club. All members are warmly invited to attend and listen to our guest speaker Brett O’Riley, Chief Executive of ATEED (Auckland Tourism, Events & Economic Development). ATEED is a council-controlled organisation, tasked with lifting the Auckland region's economic wellbeing, and support and enhance the ability of the region to compete internationally. Brett has a passion for Devonport as well as a vision for its future potential. We are very lucky to have him speak at the AGM and I would encourage all DBA members to attend.
Cheers for now - Eddie de Heer
President – Devonport Business Association