Andrew: FYI NIMBY is not okay

Auckland City Harbour News - - News -

The story thus far: Last week’s col­umn crit­i­cised the plan for a 41-floor build­ing on the city edge of the har­bour – in par­tic­u­lar, fail­ure by Auck­land City Coun­cil plan­ners to ask for pub­lic re­ac­tion to the scheme.

I cited this as a wor­ry­ing in­di­ca­tion that bu­reau­crats don’t con­sult the com­mu­nity as they are re­quired to do.

I feared that this trend could worsen in a su­percity with plan­ners even more dis­tant from the pub­lic that pays them.

Now read on, and for those unfamiliar the terms FYI = For Your In­for­ma­tion and NIMBY = Not In My Back Yard.

From Andrew Love: “As an ex­pat, with a keen in­ter­est in what’s hap­pen­ing in New Zealand and more specif­i­cally Auck­land – a city I grew up in – I can only voice my im­mense frus­tra­tion with your col­umn on Mon­ster cities and mon­strosi­ties.

“Per­haps this has passed you by, but the over­whelm­ing frus­tra­tion with many ex­pats over­seas, and as a con­se­quence an over­rid­ing con­cern with re­turn­ing home with fam­i­lies in tow, is this fas­ci­na­tion with the NIMBY cul­ture and re­sis­tance to change. We des­per­ately need de­vel­op­ment.

“We need a col­lec­tive de­sire to change Auck­land from a city half in the 1970s and half into the 21st cen­tury.

“Ask tourists what their per­cep­tion is of Auck­land.

“Al­most with­out ex­cep­tion, the com­ment is along the lines of: ‘Nice, but I didn’t spend a lot of time there.’

“If we pro­vided tourists with one spot in New Zealand which oozed a world­class CBD, I would ven­ture that tourists would be more likely to spend a cou­ple of days and nights there.

“Go out and ask a sam­ple of younger Auck­lan­ders within the ever-shrink­ing 21 to 35-year-old age group – they’re all em­i­grat­ing to larger, more ex­cit­ing cities and coun­tries – for their feel­ings on larger de­vel­op­ments within the CBD.

“A sim­ple ques­tion: Do you, or do you not, favour in­creased high-rise de­vel­op­ment within Auck­land’s CBD?

“Pro­tect the wa­ter­front, pro­tect Sav­age Me­mo­rial Park. Pro­tect Devon­port, but al­low the CBD to be­come a world-class en­vi­ron­ment.

“As for your ar­gu­ment about the ‘com­mu­nity’s view of the har­bour’, are you se­ri­ous? A five-minute drive or walk from the CBD af­fords you ex­actly that.

“There are views of the har­bour from Par­nell, Taka­puna, Pon­sonby, Devon­port, Herne Bay, North Head, St He­liers ... the op­tions avail­able to view the har­bour are too nu­mer­ous to men­tion.

“Fight, and fight hard to stop the ugly, cheap apart­ment build­ings.

“On the other hand, we need to start em­brac­ing pro­posed Auck­land city de­vel­op­ments such as Saf­fron, El­liott and The Chancery. Th­ese are world-class de­vel­op­ments and will en­hance the cityscape, not ruin it.

“Ask th­ese same peo­ple about their per­cep­tion of what Me­trop­o­lis and the Sky Tower have done for the city of Auck­land? How about the latest ad­di­tion to the Taka­puna sky­line?

“If Auck­land is to ever as­sume some sense of be­com­ing a world-class city, we must em­brace change and de­vel­op­ment.

“I dare you to fol­low through on a ques­tion­naire – tar­get­ing the fu­ture of the city.

“Do they or do they not agree in prin­ci­ple with in­creas­ing the Auck­land sky­line? I have given you three ex­am­ples of de­vel­op­ments which need to go ahead.

“The ab­sur­dity around the Saf­fron with the back­lash is only to be ex­pected.

“If you want views of the har­bour, or pro­tec­tion of ex­ist­ing churches and old build­ings, move to some­where else in New Zealand.

“You can see the lack of fore­sight and de­vel­op­ment in all its glory. If you want to see what Auck­land could and should have be­come, have a look at Melbourne and Syd­ney.

“Per­haps with less of the NIMBY at­ti­tude, the flood of young New Zealan­ders over­seas may slow down, as they see change and de­vel­op­ment go­ing on in their own city.

“What is the av­er­age age of the peo­ple show­ing op­po­si­tion to the Saf­fron? Is it closer to 60, or 20?

“Yes, I am over­seas and un­for­tu­nately, I’m just wait­ing for the Rugby World Cup and Eden Park to fall flat on its face. From what I can as­cer­tain, this sta­dium has been there for the best part of the 20th cen­tury, yet any de­sire to up­grade it to a world-class fa­cil­ity is met by out­rage and dis­gust. Res­i­dents knew where they were buy­ing.

“I’d also ven­ture that we will not have a sub­way sys­tem to cope with the North Shore, the east­ern and far east­ern sub­urbs in even 50 years. Again, the rea­son? NIMBY.” • Is he right or wrong?

I was wrong in say­ing the build­ing will be 328 me­tres high. That is the height of the Sky Tower.

A reader sug­gests a more likely height is half that. So only 170 me­tres!

For the record, the 67-storey El­liott apart­ment block – planned for the old Royal Ho­tel site in Vic­to­ria St by Korea’s Dawe Ju Con­struc­tion and al­ready ap­proved by the city coun­cil – has been re­ported as be­ing “close to the height of the Sky Tower”.

So close that, in a high al­ti­tude scrap, SkyCity has ob­jected be­cause of the fear the neigh­bour could block its telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion sys­tem – and that El­liott ten­ants may later ob­ject to peo­ple on its ob­ser­va­tion deck be­ing able to see into their ex­pen­sive apart­ments.

Note: El­liott is one of the world-class projects Andrew says we should “em­brace”.

To con­tact Pat Booth email: off­pat@snl.co.nz. Replies are open for pub­li­ca­tion un­less clearly marked Not For Pub­li­ca­tion.

Also in the mail: Passed on by reader Wal­lace Moore, a fol­low-up to an­other col­umn topic – con­cerns over the in­flux of Euro­pean work­ers into Bri­tain.

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