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Grey Lynn Residents Mobilise

Media Release from Grey Lynn Residents Association

Residents of Auckland suburb Grey Lynn met yesterday to form a Grey Lynn Residents Association in part motivated by the Auckland Council’s Unitary Plan

“Many local residents were horrified to see the draft Unitary Plan’s re-zoning development proposed for Grey Lynn, but there was no central organisation to turn to for help or a local response,” says Grey Lynn Residents Association spokesperson Liz Hancock. “So a few residents got together to propose the forming of the Association to the community.”

Emails, conversations, door knocking and a leaflet drop mobilized the community, garnering 80 Facebook likes within just a few days. At a public meeting this evening attended by nearly 100 people, the motion was passed to form the Grey Lynn Residents Association.

The Association is now undertaking the process of electing its committee members, comprising of six members elected by the community plus two members appointed by the committee. “Having two appointed members enables the committee to ensure that the Association has the benefit of access to a wider skill set,” says Chris Patterson who drafted the proposed rules for the Association.

“I think the Residents Association is a great idea,” says long-term resident Jennifer Burns, who has lived in Grey Lynn for the past 38-years. “I’ve spent most of my life here because it’s such a vibrant place. All this initiative is great to see, it’s just wonderful. It’s good to have an Association to help put Grey Lynn residents’ views before the Council and to move [the Unitary Plan] forward together.”

Currently, the Auckland Council’s draft Unitary Plan has up-zoned some areas close to the area’s West Lynn shops, now deemed a “local town”, for terraced housing and apartment development up to six stories high. Many other streets will be affected by the mixed housing height-to-boundary rules. All of the streets affected predominantly feature pre-1940s wooden villas and bungalows in quiet, low-rise residential streets, many with limited access roads. Meanwhile, other areas such as the busy and mainly industrial Great North Road arterial route, are currently not zoned for such development.

“We understand Auckland Council’s need to plan for a growing population, but we have to fight to protect the heritage and culture of this vibrant community, much of which will be lost if the council goes ahead with plans to redevelop certain streets,” says Liz Hancock. “Intensification is fine, but not at the expense of historical areas that help to make Auckland – and by extension New Zealand – globally unique. There are areas within Grey Lynn that the local community feel are more naturally suited to the Council’s planned zoning for terraced housing and apartment development, and the Residents Association looks forward to working in cooperation with the community, the Waitemata Local Board and Auckland Council to rethink the Unitary Plan for this area.”

According to the Wikipedia page on Ponsonby, Grey Lynn was granted heritage protection in 1990, and has the world’s largest concentration of wooden Victorian buildings (uncited). Grey Lynn Library on Great North Road was built in 1924, and is the oldest purpose-built library still operating in the Auckland area. The building on the corner of Great North Road and Williamson Avenue features a mural by celebrated Niuean artist John Pule.

“Unfortunately, because the Auckland Council has yet to define the resource consent process that potential developers would go through to knock down historical buildings, we don’t feel that the pre-1944 protection covenant is enough of a guarantee that we won’t lose important houses and buildings forever,” says Hancock.

The population of Grey Lynn is currently 9,171 according to the 2006 census, however the suburb has undergone development and intensification over the past 10 years. The area was originally farmland, which was developed for housing in the late 1800s and early 1900s – reflected in the Victorian building stock. Mid last century the suburb became home to many Tongan, Samoan and Niuean families. Grey Lynn was the birthplace of Auckland’s annual Pasifika festival, hosts the independent Grey Lynn Park Festival (now in its 29th year), and is home to many of New Zealand’s most celebrated names in sports, music, media and the arts.




Liz Hancock, GLRA spokesperson 021 589 200 lizhancock@mac.com