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HomeTHE HOTTEST TOPICSAuckland Unitary PlanWhat the Auckland Unitary Plan means for retailers

What the Auckland Unitary Plan means for retailers

The details: Heritage areas

The rules are stricter for retailers in Special Character areas or buildings with Historic Heritage. There are about 20 commercial Special Character areas where distinctive aesthetic qualities of the area are to be preserved – such as Parnell, Ponsonby, Devonport and Helensville Central.

In these areas, changes to the inside of the building do not require resource consent but changes to the outside may, John Duguid says.

Billboards to the side or back of the building are discretionary, but free-standing billboards or billboards on the front of the building are non-complying and will need resource consent.

The Historic Heritage overlay identifies specific scheduled buildings with heritage value.

With these buildings, the only signs permitted are ones for identification and safety. Any demolition, destruction or modification will require resource consent.

The details: New developments

For new buildings or new developments, the Unitary Plan sets rules for the height and street frontage glazing – with different rules for different zones and precincts.

Auckland Council is trying to ensure developments are well designed, making places people-friendly and not turning people away with big blank walls, John Duguid says. New buildings will go through a design assessment but the council has stayed well away from designing the look and feel of new areas, he says.

The Warehouse Group’s general manager property Fiona Shilton agrees the ‘decision version’ of the Unitary Plan has removed a lot of the prescription that was in the original ‘notified version’, with more reliance placed on assessment criteria.

But Retail NZ’s Greg Harford would like to see more flexibility and less prescription with the plan.

“Prescriptive rules are unlikely to affect growth, but they may make it more expensive for development to occur. This ultimately flows through to higher prices for consumers,” he says. “We want retail to be accessible to the customer. We want an environment where retail can thrive: that means that retailers need to have a business-friendly environment and the most permissive environment possible.”

This story originally appeared in NZ Retail magazine issue 746 October / November 2016

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