Julie Stout of Urban Design and Paul Edmond of the Auckland branch of the New Zealand Institute of Architects write on the outcome of the Environment Court appeal against the design of Ryman Healthcare’s controversial Devonport retirement village.
The New Zealand Institute of Architects and Urban Auckland congratulate Ryman Healthcare for their generous co-operation in mediation negotiations on the design of their proposed Devonport retirement village in Ngataringa Road.
Ryman Healthcare was very responsive to alternative layouts proposed by the appellants, which were designed to strengthen connections between the new “village” and the existing one, by breaking building blocks down around open spaces, building closer to the street, and reducing the sense of an out-of-scale institution in the seaside suburb. It’s a pity it took an Environment Court Appeal to bring us to conciliation.
We took this action (supporting the Devonport Peninsula Precinct Society) to reinforce the objectives of the Auckland Unitary Plan regarding “Precincts”. These call for “quality development that is in keeping with the planned built character of the area” and policy to “recognise and provide for existing and planned neighbourhood character through the use of place-based planning tools”.
The Unitary Plan was designed to deliver a high quality, more compact city. Unfortunately the rules do not force this, and even the recommendations of the expert, independent Urban Design Panel on specific projects like Ryman’s, can be ignored in applications for Resource Consent.
Auckland Council and its Hearing Commissioners need to show more courage in enforcing the objectives and policies of the Unitary Plan. Otherwise, there will be more cases like this one taken to the Environment Court by angry, disillusioned communities.
Acknowledgment is made to Ken Davis, Richard Reid and Pip Cheshire, who were also involved in the mediation.
For earlier commentary on the proposed Devonport development by David Mitchell, see here.