‘Gross’ wall causes ruckus

Legal action is being taken over a three-metre-high retaining wall.

Birkenhead Pt residents are seeking a judicial review of the Auckland Council-approved resource consent at the High Court.

Residents are adamant the wall is the only issue with the 83 Palmerston Rd development.

David Rawlings, who lives directly opposite the property, says he is disgusted it has been allowed to go ahead.

The first three hours of sunlight on to his property will be blocked by it.

It is as tall as Mr Rawlings’ two-storey house because it is being built on a one-metre-high slope, elevating it to four metres.

A handrail will be built on top of it.

“It’s very ‘in-your-face’.”

Planned conciliation meetings between residents and the consent holder have not occurred, Mr Rawlings says.

Mr Rawlings says it is a failure on council’s part to not see out the due process.

“Council is behaving regardless of the intention of their district plan.”

Birkenhead Pt is a zone 3 heritage area.

Many residents believe the wall goes against in keeping with Birkenhead’s heritage.

The Birkenhead Residents Association is also opposed.

Environmental affects from the wall were deemed “less than minor” in the consent report.

Mr Rawlings says the report also said the impact on him was minor.

He feels council has told him to “stuff off”.

“It’s a big, bad world out there and we might be stuck with it.

“It’s just gross, it’s bloody gross.”

A council spokesperson says land use consent, which authorises the construction of the retaining wall, was granted May 8.

“This consent was processed on a non-notified basis following a consideration of the district plan and affected parties”.

“While that application is before the court, it is not appropriate that we make any further comment.”

Consent holder Manu Withers did not return requests for comment by deadline.

Credits

Written by: Jess Etherridge
Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times – 30 December 2013

Strong voice for Kaipatiki

Giving Kaipatiki a stronger voice is a top priority for new local board members.

Several developments, such as the Hinemoa St boarding house, Birkenhead Wharf bike shed and Onewa Rd Z station, have gone ahead despite a public outcry.

Approval for these has come from Auckland Council officers.

Kaipatiki Local Board members want more thorough consultation on projects such as SkyPath and the second harbour crossing.

Two tickets vied to secure a majority on the board.

Kaipatiki Voice won a mandate, with Ann Hartley, Lindsay Waugh, Richard Hills, Kay McIntyre and Danielle Grant winning seats.

Grant Gillon, John Gillon and Lorene Pigg of the Team of Independents got in but will struggle when it comes to decision-making.

Mr Gillon says a lack of meaningful dialogue has Aucklanders feeling disempowered.

Kaipatiki has worked hard and had successes, such as Beach Haven’s civic square project, he says.

But the contentious bike shed needs to be moved or got rid of, Mr Gillon says.

“When the wrong decisions are made, we need to have the fortitude … to admit a mistake was made.”

He says a decision was made on “erroneous” information given to the board.

Richard Hills says any decision on the $66,000 shed needs to respect the community.

More than 600 people signed a petition opposing its location.

Changes to the Unitary Plan and details on SkyPath also need to be discussed, Mr Hills says.

Ann Hartley says “misinformation” and lack of understanding over Unitary Plan changes saw her miss out on a council seat.

She hopes a deal between the SkyPath group and the council will be made within 12 months.

Several exits may be needed on the northern side to ease traffic, Lindsay Waugh says. More analysis of the $28 million pathway is needed, she says.

Crossing the harbour by tunnel, however, will impact on North Shore residents either side of the motorway.

A route is to be outlined by the New Zealand Transport Agency by December.

Mrs Waugh says bringing the tunnel’s landing to Onewa Rd would impact on congestion.

But bringing the tunnel up to Esmonde Rd may boost Northcote’s economy, she says.

Public transport will also make a drastic turn this term. Buses could run every 15 minutes between 7am and 7pm, seven days a week on The New Network.

John Gillon says new routes connecting Beach Haven and bus stations should ease Onewa Rd traffic.

The biggest loss for the board was former police officer and lawyer Nick Kearney.

He is disappointed he was not re-elected.

Kaipatiki is the most underfunded local board per capita in Auckland so securing a decent budget from the council will be crucial, he says.

Mr Kearney says he will continue his triathlon training, join a Kaipatiki placemaking group and learn to play the clarinet.

Credits:

Written by: Jess Etheridge
Published: Auckland Now / North Shore Times 17 October 2013
– © Fairfax NZ News

Shed decision delayed

Despite overwhelming demand, a decision on the contentious Birkenhead Wharf bike shed has been delayed until after the election.

Kaipatiki Local Board officers were investigating if the $66,000 bike shed could be moved.

A report on options was requested by September 11.

If the report wasn’t finished, four members were to make a decision anyway using a $40,000 budget.

But it has been pushed back until after the Auckland Council elections.

Several options will come to the new board and it is up to members to have read up on the issue before making the call, Kaipatiki chairwoman Lindsay Waugh says.

Residents and community groups are angry the shed was put in at the end of the wharf, claiming it blocked the view and created several safety issues for young people on the water.

A petition opposing the shed, which can store 30 bikes and 10 scooters, gathered 628 signatures.

Auckland Transport investigated and said the spot at the very end of the wharf was most suitable, Ms Waugh says.

Ms Waugh says there was a “keenness from the board to meet the call for cycle storage” at Birkenhead Wharf.

“We are trying to meet competing needs of a number of users in a finite space.

“We seem to have missed a step on this one,” Ms Waugh said last month.

The Birkenhead Residents Association says it is supportive of cycling facilities but the shed’s spot is inappropriate.

Chairwoman Gillian Taylor says the community wants the shed relocated and to be consulted on any similar public works in future.

Credits:

Written by: Jess Etheridge
Published: Auckland Now / North Shore Times – 24 September 20123
– © Fairfax NZ News

Contractor ‘placing lives at risk’

Residents angered by a 45-bedroom boarding house in Birkenhead claim developers started construction illegally and are “placing people’s lives at risk”.

And Northcote MP Jonathan Coleman has publicly criticised the developers and the Auckland Council, saying the public should have been told.

Around 45 people turned up at Birkenhead Library for a meeting with Mr Coleman, Kaipatiki Local Board chairwoman Lindsay Waugh and owner-operator of the Hinemoa St boarding home Brett Cranston.

Concerns have been raised over the council’s process and the potential to attract residents with anti-social behaviour.

A neighbour says permission was never sought to block her driveway and is in breach of her rights.

One Birkenhead resident says he made a complaint to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment because of the nature of construction work at the site.

“The contractor is placing people’s lives at risk.”

Mr Coleman said at the beginning of the meeting he had “no public position” but by the end he slammed the council and Mr Cranston, saying it should have been publicly notified because there was “no upside for residents”.

It was also a lesson in “public relations”, Mr Coleman said, as Mr Cranston admitted the meeting was the first time he had ever consulted with Birkenhead residents.

Mrs Waugh also changed tack on her previous stance, saying construction work and safety on the site must now be investigated.

“The level I’m hearing today I find very disturbing.”

Mr Cranston, who runs two similar establishments in Panmure and Otahuhu, says the Scottys-branded accommodation does not accept those referred by Work and Income or any similar services.

Rumours it will become a brothel are untrue and it is marketed as “adults only” because it is not acceptable living circumstances for those under 18, he says.

Mr Cranston says the boarding home will actually have 48 rooms, despite official council reports saying 45.

He also disputed the size of the rooms, saying council’s 14 square metre size was wrong.

The boarding home has a three car park-shortfall with residents saying time-restricted on-street parking for boarding home tenants is not an option.

The council says impacts on the surrounding area “were not more than minor and therefore concluded that full public notification was not required on this occasion”.

Credits

Written by: Jess Etheridge
Published: Auckland Now / North Shore Times – 28 May 2013

Rumours run rife over brothel

Rumours a 45-bedroom boarding home being built in Birkenhead will become a brothel are “unsubstantiated”.

Residents have contacted the North Shore Times with claims the 194 Hinemoa St “adults’ only” hotel will be used as a brothel.

Two other hotels are run in Panmure and Otahuhu by the same developer.

One resident, Shirley-Ann McCrystal, says she was told by Panmure businesses the hotel in their area was “nothing more or less than a brothel”.

“There is the argument that prostitution is a legalised ‘profession’ but it is the addition of more drunken ne’er do wells that hang about them which our neighbourhood can do with out thank you.”

But Panmure Business Association town manager Chris Sutton says it is “absolutely not” a brothel.

Mrs Sutton says residents raised the same concerns but those living in the Panmure hotel are working and are part of the community.

It was also non-notified which concerned the community, Mrs Sutton says.

Kaipatiki Local Board chairwoman Lindsay Waugh also disputes the “unsubstantiated” claim.

“Until there is any evidence that this is intended as a brothel I will not respond to unsubstantiated urban myths. There has been no indication of this development becoming a brothel in the resource consent application.”

Residents have questioned Auckland Council after the three-storey boarding house development was approved.

The council says public input was not needed as the effects of the building on the area were deemed minor.

Rooms range in size between 14 square metres and 22sqm with only 13 car parks for residents and staff.

North Shore’s district plan says a minimum of one car park to three residents is required.

This means the boarding house will have a three-park shortfall but a traffic engineer deemed it would not have significant impact.

Birkenhead Residents Association says the validity of a boarding house not going through a public feedback process is questionable.

The council says impacts on the surrounding area “were not more than minor and therefore concluded that full public notification was not required on this occasion”.

It says the project won’t adversely affect neighbours of the boarding house.

Birkenhead boarding house gets up nose of neighbours

Birkenhead residents are up in arms over a boarding house rising in a picturesque boutique shopping street.

Birkenhead residents are up in arms over a boarding house rising in a picturesque boutique shopping street and worry about the “type of people” it might bring.

Birkenhead Residents Association members decried work at 194-198 Hinemoa St where consent has been granted for additions and alterations to an existing commercial building for the establishment and operation of a 62-bed boarding house.

They questioned how Panmure Trust’s project got consent and retailers Jo Sutton and Paul McKenzie, of Bambina International, nearby are worried.

“Our retail store is aimed at mums and babies and small children are in the immediate vicinity. The type of people who typically live at this kind of address are definitely not the type we want permanently in the vicinity of our store. We are concerned for the safety of our staff and customers as well as a potential increase in shoplifting. Birkenhead has more than it’s share of colourful characters already. We agree that a boarding house is most definitely residential. We will be doing all that we can to add our voice to this battle,” they told the association.

Sutton said houses in the street regularly sold for $1 million-plus, the project was near the Birkenhead Library, plunket rooms, a park and the Citizens Advice Bureau and the local board was behind a big push to enhance the area.

Nick Kearney, Kaipataki Local Board deputy chairman, said consent for the boarding house was processed on a non-notified basis because the project complied in almost all aspects. The works planned were a permitted activity, he said, therefore did not need to be notified, although he was aware of feeling in the community against the project.

Auckland Council granted the approval and the board had no active role in it, Mr Kearney said.

The council report on the project said there was no need to call for objections.

“There is no basis for the council to exercise its broad discretion to publicly notify the application because the proposal is conventional in nature and represents no significant deviation from the range of effects anticipated by the plan,” said the report. Hinemoa St is an “edge of town centre street” and providing an active/public use at the street front is not considered to be an absolute necessity, it said.

The provision of a continuous veranda along the street facade would ensure that the appearance of the building is consistent with the expectations of the District Plan and maintained the character and amenity of the town centre, it concluded.

Credits

Written by: Anne Gibson
Photo by: Greg Bowker
Published: The New Zealand Herald – 21 May 2013

Council approach ‘haphazard’

Rethink the plan or rethink the council.

This was the unanimous message from 500 Aucklanders gathered at Takapuna Grammar School last night to discuss Auckland Council’s intensification plans.

The meeting was organised by resident-led group Auckland 2040 whose goal is to encourage 50,000 people to give feedback to the council on what they believe is a “haphazard, scatter-gun” approach to intensification.

Founders Richard Burton, a resource management consultant, and Guy Haddleton

argued that, contrary to what the council is claiming, 56 per cent of the residential area in Auckland will be zoned to allow apartments.

Following a city-wide resident revolt over the last fortnight Mayor Len Brown has already announced that four areas of the plan would be revised.

But those present at the meeting were unanimous in calling for the entire plan to be revisited and looked at from the “ground up”.

This would include investigating what areas are appropriate for intensification in terms of infrastructure and character.

“We have got to keep holding the mayor’s feet to the fire,” said Mr Haddleton.

“We need to slow this process down until we get it right.”

The lone voice in support of the plan, councillor Ann Hartley, was shut down by angry residents who booed her claims that council is willing and ready to listen to public feedback.

Call for plan rethink

A campaign to get 50,000 Aucklanders to tell the council to rethink its intensification plans is under way.

The coalition behind the campaign, Auckland 2040, is concerned that without a united voice residents will lose the chance to have a say on the future of their city.

The council has set a May 31 deadline for community feedback to the draft Unitary Plan, which proposes intensification through rezoning much of the city for apartment and terraced housing.

Richard Burton, a Resource Management Act consultant with 30 years experience, says the first concern is that most people are still unaware how the Unitary Plan will affect properties and neighbourhoods.

“This is the most fundamental decision Auckland will make in the next 100 years,” he says. “Apathy is our enemy and there’s a real sense of urgency. In council’s eyes not putting in feedback is tantamount to agreeing with the plan.”

Mr Burton also says he’s horrified by aspects of the plan that the council is not making clear to the public.

“People are already concerned about the height limits without even realising that the council will have the ability to allow increased height without public notification. Developers will do whatever they can to persuade the council to allow them extra height and other dispensations and I say council because residents will have no say.”

Another major concern, he says, is the lack of investigation the council has undertaken on the impact of intensification on roading, schools, sewerage, hospitals and reserves.

Guy Haddleton, who along with Mr Burton is driving the Auckland 2040 campaign, says community-run meetings have been a real eye opener.

“People are not against an intensification plan for Auckland,” Mr Haddleton says. “What they’re saying is that council needs to rethink the plan and identify appropriate locations for intensification based on infrastructure and community feedback.”

Auckland 2040 will be holding public meetings where people can submit their feedback on the plan to council.

■ May 19, 4.30pm, Takapuna Grammar School

■ May 26, 5pm, Northcote Senior Citizens Hall.

Visit auckland2040.org.nz for more information.

High-rise plans horrify

George Gardner was shaking with disbelief when he found out apartment blocks up to six storeys are being proposed for his suburban Browns Bay neighbourhood.

He is so concerned about the effect on his suburb he printed out his own leaflets and dropped them at 45 houses in the area around Stapleford Cres.

Auckland Council’s draft unitary plan proposes zoning the area around Sherwood Reserve for apartments and terraced housing, encouraging developments between four and six storeys.

Since then Mr Gardner has had neighbours phoning him up almost in tears, he says.

“They thought like I did, that all the apartments were going to be near the businesses in Browns Bay not in the residential streets,” he says.

“People had no idea and they’re really concerned about what it will do to their land value, their views and about increases in traffic and pressure on infrastructure.”

Mr Gardner says Auckland Council should be giving the plans more publicity.

“When I was walking my dog the other day I stopped 25 people Sherwood Reserve and Freyberg Park and asked them about the unitary plan and 23 of them didn’t know how the new zoning would affect them.

“The council is just relying on us not looking to get it through,” he says.

MEETING TO GO AHEAD

Meeting Anger at 24.5 metre building heights proposed for Browns Bay town centre has prompted residents to organise a meeting tonight.

Residents thought they could relax when the Environment Court set 12.5m maximum height limits in 2003, former Browns Bay Beachfront Action Committee chairman Kurt Marquart says.

Mr Marquart is among residents keen to raise awareness about the draft unitary plan provisions.

Shading in Browns Bay streets would be a major issue with cafe visitors missing out on the sun, he says.

Existing building like the 15m Bacchus in Bute Rd would pale in comparison to the heights proposed, Mr Marquart says.

He says it’s vital residents get up to speed and have their say before submissions to the draft unitary plan close on May 31. The meeting is in Browns Bay School at 8pm tonight.


Concerns over boarding house project

Questions are being asked over a three-storey, 45-room boarding house development in a commercial Birkenhead zone, including whether it was scrutinised enough by Auckland Council.

The council says public input was not needed as the effects of the building on the area were deemed minor.

Rooms in the 194 Hinemoa St development range in size between 14 square metres and 22sqm with only 13 car parks for residents and staff.

North Shore’s district plan says a minimum of one car park to three residents is required.

This means the boarding house will have a three-park shortfall but a traffic engineer deemed it would not have significant impact.

Birkenhead Residents Association chairwoman Gillian Taylor says many are “horrified at what’s happened”.

She says there are concerns for the wellbeing of boarding house residents planning to live in the “small” rooms.

The association is not sure who will be living there.

Parking is already limited for residents, Ms Taylor says.

The association is not opposed to commercial development, she says, but it questions the validity of a boarding house not going through a public feedback process.

Council northern resource consent manager Julie Bevan says the land’s zoning was not the reason why it was able to sidestep public feedback.

The council investigated the effects on the wider environment, Ms Bevan says.

It was decided they “were not more than minor and therefore concluded that full public notification was not required on this occasion”.

The council says the project won’t adversely affect neighbours of the boarding house.

Ms Taylor says residents are now unsure of their options. Delaying the project until it is fully investigated would be ideal, she says.

PROJECT HISTORY

The plans for the boarding house were passed on for approval by one of the North Shore’s most outspoken opponents of intensification.

Vivienne Keohane did not request Auckland Council to publicly notify it.

“I don’t think so because at that stage it didn’t seem out of character for where it was going to be,” Mrs Keohane says.

The “only fault” Mrs Keohane says she could find with the boarding house was parking.

The 194 Hinemoa St boarding home falls three short of the 16 parks required under current council regulations.

Chairwoman Lindsay Waugh says the development report never came back to the board.

Mrs Waugh says she was away on council duties when Mrs Keohane received the report and asked her to consult the Birkenhead Business Association.

But Mrs Keohane says Mrs Waugh didn’t put forward her concerns.

Both “agreed there’s no point” as officers decide if the project goes ahead anyway, Mrs Keohane says.

Mr Whitehead the proposed Unitary Plan there would be no responsibility for developments, such as the boarding house, to be of a high standard.

The questionable process by which the Hinemoa development was approved should be investigated, Mr Whitehead says.

Credits

Written by Jess Etheridge
Photo by: Warwick Jones
Published: Auckland Now / North Shore Times