Volcanoes in our sights

EMMA WHITTAKER
Last updated 05:00 31/08/2012

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The battle to protect views of Auckland's volcanoes is taking another significant step forward.

The Auckland Council's regional development and operations committee has agreed to include changes to its volcanic viewshafts policy in the current district plan, rather than wait to incorporate them in the upcoming Unitary Plan.

Volcanic viewshafts have been part of the city's district plans since 1977. They are sight lines that ensure nothing can be built that would block the view of the volcanoes from other significant places in Auckland.

"They mean you can drive into town on the northwestern motorway and from Waterview you can see the magnificent view of Mt Albert and Mt Eden unfolding," long-time advocate for the shafts and councillor Sandra Coney says.

A review of the shafts by the Auckland Regional Council began in the 1990s after developers managed to build in some of them.

It was complete by 2005 but the appeals that followed meant it was only this year that the Auckland Council has been able to start the process of bringing them into force.

The change will delete seven and add another 35 viewshafts.

Ms Coney and Albert-Eden Local Board chairman Peter Haynes were calling for the new viewshafts to be scheduled in the current district plan to ensure they couldn't be built out before they were protected, or changed if they don't fit in with housing intensification proposed in the Auckland Plan.

But in a report to the council's regional development and operations committee planners recommend waiting for the Unitary Plan.

The report says: "It is possible that the elected representatives and communities will want to discuss any tensions between, for example, the viewshafts and town centre development as part of the broader engagement on the Unitary Plan.

"The Unitary Plan process will provide opportunities to consider any competing interests and to resolve them."

"It's clear that officials were not intending that these competing interests be resolved in favour of the viewshafts," Mr Haynes says.

"Without our volcanic cones, and our views of them, Auckland becomes just much more like any other city in the world.

"These are the single geographic feature that sets us apart and makes us special," he says.

The changes to the district plan will be now be publicly notified.

Greg Smith from the Auckland Volcanic Cone Protection Society says the decision will bring a welcome end to what has been a very long process.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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