Wharf trees to be axed

A dozen mature pohutukawa are set to get the chop at Hinemoa Park in Birkenhead.

Public notices are about to go out on the decision to cut down the grove of pohutukawa in the park by Birkenhead Wharf.

North Shore City Council officers say the trees are in poor health and are a hazard to cars parked at the wharf.

They have received resource consent for the work on the trees.

The felling is described as a first step in plans to cut down a number of dangerous trees in the park.

“The limbs are breaking off. Cars are getting damaged on the foreshore area. It was a foregone conclusion that they had to come out. They’re now dangerous to park users,” says the council’s Birkenhead and Northcote parks officer Bob Wallace.

“There’s a general support for what’s being done.”

But some residents are upset at the plans to remove the trees, which they say are an icon of area.

Birkenhead Residents Association member Carol Scott says cutting down the trees will have a “devastating” effect on the seaside park.

Residents haven’t been consulted enough on the felling and many still don’t know about it, she says.

“Because it’s going to have such a devastating effect, it’s council’s responsibility to engage the public. People should have been made more aware of this,” she says.

“I’ve got people coming up to me saying ‘surely it’s not true’.”

Birkenhead arborist Gary Claxton says the felling plans are generally understandable, but could be toned down.

He has recommended council officers keep two of the trees and put a better plan in place to manage their health.

“There’s going to be discontent, but on the whole I thought the decision is pretty good, with the exception of a couple of trees.”

Public meetings are scheduled this month on the felling plans, says Mr Wallace.

He expects to see a the trees come out over the course of two days in May.

Parks at the wharf will be closed off while the felling is going on, meaning ferry commuters will have to park on side streets off Hinemoa St.

Credits

Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times

Sweet news for Chelsea park

A 37-hectare public park has been given the green light at Chelsea Refinery in Birkenhead.

Chelsea Sugar has agreed to sell the land around its iconic pink painted refinery buildings for $20 million, more than two years after proposing the deal.

Only a final seal of approval from the Environment Court is needed for the purchase to go ahead.

“The deal has essentially gone unconditional,” says Chelsea Sugar general manager Bernard Duignan.

“This land is going to be maintained as a park.”

Legal action by the Auckland Regional Council and New Zealand Historic Places Trust had threatened to sink the park deal.

Both appealed a North Shore District Plan change allowing 528 units on about 15 hecatres of refinery land to the Environment Court.

Chelsea Sugar had threatened to pull out of the park deal if the plan change wasn’t approved.

It took a compromise agreement between all the parties to get the company to put the purchase back on the table.

That extended the amount of consultation required if the refinery does decide to develop some of its land.

Mr Duignan says it’s unlikely development will ever go ahead.

“I can say absolutely and categorically we have no plans of developing the land. We’ve been operating here for 125 years.”

North Shore City Council community services and parks committee chairman Tony Holman says the park will be an asset to all Shore residents.

It will guarantee them with the longest section of bush-clad coastline on the Waitemata Harbour, he says.

Ten million dollars for the park purchase will come from North Shore council, $6m from ASB Charitable Trust, $2m from Auckland Regional Council and $2m from the government.

The idea of a park on the Uruamo headland in Birkenhead was first proposed a decade ago.

The Environment Court has 60 days to ratify the park purchase.

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Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times

Plan Change 16: A Timeline Of Events

Background – It was the vision of the Chelsea Regional Park
Association to protect the Uruamo Headland from Kauri Point to Chelsea as one great urban park for the people of Auckland.
An agreement for the sale of buffer land surrounding the sugar works fell short of protecting the refinery site.

Dec 2005 – NZ Sugar Company Ltd and Chelsea Park Trust announced the conditional sale of 36.7 hectares of parkland for $20 million, subject to the following conditions:-

  • Chelsea Sugar are able to continue operating on the present 24/7 basis.
  • Chelsea Park Trust obtaining funds to complete the purchase.
  • Quote: “That in the unlikely event the refinery was relocated, a suitable pattern of land use for the refinery site is in place for the future.”

 
Apr 2006 – $100 million upgrade in capacity of CSR’s sugar refining plant in Melbourne is announced in “The Age”

  • Chelsea Mixed Use Overlay Plan Change 16 (incl 527 residential units) was notified to the Public.
  • Public meetings regarding Plan Change 16 attracted
    large numbers of concerned residents.

 

May 2006 – Submissions for Plan Change 16 closed 5th May.
Over 500 submissions were received.

Aug 2006 – Submissions were summarised and released for
further submission.

Sep 2006 – Further Submissions closed friday 29th

Feb 2007 – Hearing for plan change 16 (Chelsea) is scheduled for Tues 20 to Thurs 22 February

Feb 12 2007 – Chelsea withdraws detailed plan. The original application for plan change 16 has been amended by deleting the detail planning maps suggesting where buildings would be sited, dispensing with the “Chelsea mixed use overlay area and plan” and introducing the alternative of the “Chelsea future use and conservation zone”

Feb 26 & 27 2007– Bruce & Virginia Stainton, Carol Scott, Douglas Love, Heather Nicholson, Scott Cordes, Geoff Sawyer and Penny Hext made submissions at the hearing.

Mar 8 2007 – Submitters opposed to the Chelsea Sugar Refinery plan change get a second chance to have their views heard because hearing commissioners say an article in the New Zealand Herald could have been misinterpreted.

Nov 2 2007 – The Hearing Commissioners’ decision on submissions (including further submissions) to the Proposed (Private) Plan Change 16 – Chelsea Mixed Use Overlay Area and Plan is released.

Proposed Plan Change 16: BRA Not Satisfied By Chelsea Decision

Decisions by North Shore City on Private Plan Change 16 to the District Plan in regards to the Chelsea Sugar Refinery land at Birkenhead have been made public.

Proposed Plan Change and overall determination.
This decision report specifies the Hearing Commissioners’ decision on submissions (including further submissions) to the Proposed (Private) Plan Change 16 – Chelsea Mixed Use Overlay Area and Plan.

Birkenhead Residents Association and its members were among the many community organisations opposing Chelsea Sugar Refinery’s private plan change to develop the company’s parkland premises on coastal Birkenhead into a high-density housing estate.

North Shore City Council received more than 500 objections to the proposed 528 unit Chelsea development, which would not only increase traffic flows through Highbury village centre, but would also see the destruction of cherished wildlife reserves around the existing seaside plant.

Independent planning commissioners have taken eight months to reach a decision and produce a report which recommends that the plan change provides a good option for future use of the Chelsea site, but under much tighter regulations and processes than originally sought by Chelsea, and with stricter attention to environmental issues.

Although disappointed at the decision, Birkenhead Residents Association is heartened by the support within the community and the number of opposing submissions. Chairman Harvey White believes that this opposition has played a large role in achieving the significant changes to the plan, such as the requirement that all future activities will need discretionary activity consent, and the requirement for a Comprehensive Development Plan.

But serious concerns still exist over issues such as building height and the high level of intensification of proposed apartments. Mr White said that Birkenhead Residents Association is considering an appeal against the decision.

Commissioners deliver Chelsea land use ruling

Despite the independent commissioner's decision to allow housing on the site, there is still no plan to close the sugar works.DEVELOPMENT VIEW: Despite the independent commissioner’s decision to allow housing on the site, there is still no plan to close the sugar works.

Housing should be allowed at the 120-year-old Chelsea sugar refinery in Birkenhead if the company ceases operation on the site, says a report from independent commissioners.

Allowing significantly higher buildings – up to seven storeys instead of four – in the bulk sugar store area is among the changes backed by the commissioners.

The commissioners say this is the height of the existing bulk sugar store buildings.

The district plan change allows for mainly housing on the site plus some community and business use.

Chelsea’s proposal to change the planning rules and build up to 528 houses attracted more than 500 submissions, mostly in opposition.

Opponents included the Birkenhead Residents Association critical of the ‘planned horrendous housing intensification’, the Auckland Regional Council and an Auckland city community board.

But in its submission, Chelsea says there are no plans to close the refinery and significant investment has been made in new equipment.

About 36 hectares of the 52 hectare site have been conditionally sold and will become a public park once the district plan issues are settled, says its submission.

North Shore City Council’s main concern was the fact the land was zoned for business use, and there is shortage of such land on the Shore.

Council environmental policy and planning manager Trevor Mackie says many of its concerns have been addressed.

Mr Mackie says the new plans are less specific about the location and heights of buildings and provide a more flexible framework.

He says the decision provides for a more comprehensive development plan to be produced should the refinery close.

Mr Mackie says it could be decades before the refinery shuts its doors and it is too early to be too specific about future development.

The previous plan allowed for a maximum of 3200 square metres for business use.

Mr Mackie says now the mix of residential and business will have to be reconsidered taking into account many factors, including the impact on traffic.

Credits

Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times

Residents fight high-density housing

SAY NO: Rob McCauley and fellow residents don’t want high intensity development on their street.

Plans to build high-density housing on a narrow Birkenhead street have residents up in arms.

The Catrina Avenue development is another in a series of controversial apartment and housing developments proposed for Birkenhead.

Developer Aptus Projects wants to build 20 apartments with stacked parking in a heritage area on Hinemoa St.

Opposing residents say the block would be innappropriate for the area and could cause major parking problems.

Another 36-apartment development recently approved near Highbury has caused controversy among Huka Rd residents.

Developer Dover Construction wants to put 12 townhouses with stacked parking on a small section of cleared land off the quiet Catrina Ave cul-de-sac.

But residents say the plans will cause parking problems and harm native bush.

The development proposal is ‘greedy’ and should be stopped before it ruins the street, says neighbour Rob McCauley.

“We’re concerned about traffic flow, intensity of the development, the native bush surrounding it, and we’re concerned it’s going to have a flow-on effect for the whole of Birkenhead.”

The abundance of high-density housing springing up is hurting Birkenhead, says Mr McCauley.

He wants development on his road limited to low-intensity suburban housing.

“It was our little neighbourhood. It was a lovely little area. Enough is enough. We’ve got to make a good environment for future generations. They need more space.”

Dover Construction director Hans Ottow says many of these concerns have been addressed by contractors.

Though there is no park space in the proposal, residents will have access to adjacent bush land, he says.

A traffic engineer employed by the company says the road can take the extra traffic, says Mr Ottow.

“I’m not a traffic engineer so I don’t pretend to know how they measure the space in the roads, but he’s done the analysis and he’s happy with it. “We think the houses are really well designed, they look good and are interesting.”

Credits

Photo/s by: MIKE KNOTT/North Shore Times
Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times

Apartment plans draw huge number of submissions

A proposed apartment block has attracted more than twice as many submissions as North Shore City Council’s annual plan.

There were 469 on time and 30 late resource consent submissions about developer Aptus Projects’ plans to build an apartment block in a Birkenhead heritage zone.

Only 203 people made submissions to this year’s council annual plan.

It’s unusual to get so many people interested in a single notified consent, says council specialist planning team leader Robert Andrews.

“It’s a very large number of submissions. About one in 30 or 50 hearings will get over 100 submissions,” he says.

“I guess the issue is how well it has been publicised. We served notice to the immediately affected properties but obviously many hundreds beyond them have submitted.”

Dealing with the volume of submissions could make for a lengthy resource consent process.

Some people will be asked whether they would like to have a group representative summarise their views, says Mr Andrews.

Others haven’t asked to be heard and some may not turn up, he says.

“But in the end it’s a public process and everyone has the right to be heard. It’s their democratic right.”

The proposed 20 apartment block at 83 Hinemoa St has stirred up controversy since it was first proposed in 2005.

Then Aptus Projects owner Richard Beca withdrew his plans after 440 people submitted against them.

He submitted a revised apartment block design in August this year but that has again raised the hackles of Birkenhead Pt residents.

Resource consent submission forms were handed out at public meeting on the apartment plans.

Many people took two, says Birkenhead Residents Association member Warrick Jones.

“I think it’s great. It’s a show of hands that people haven’t lost interest. I had someone ring up and say she wanted six for her workplace.”

Dissatisfaction with the council has motivated many people to make submissions, he says.

“Really you have to ask yourself how you get a modern building like that in an area where the council isgiving loans to people to rebuild their houses as they were 100 years ago. People do get motivated by injustice or perceived injustice.

“I’m hoping it sends a strong message to council.”

No resource consent hearing date has been set.

Mr Beca may be considering ‘tinkering’ with his design before the hearing, says Mr Andrews.

Credits

Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times

Protected pohutukawa cut down

CONTROVERSIAL CUT: Residents are angry this pohutukawa was removed to make way for an unconsented apartment block.A protected pohutukawa has been cut down to make room for a controversial, as yet unconsented, Birkenhead development.

Non-notified consent to remove the early mature pohutukawa on Maritime Dr was granted to developer Richard Beca in August.

He cleared it on September 11 to make room for a driveway into high density apartments he wants to build at 83 Hinemoa St.

Residents of the heritage area are angry at the move.

Many of them oppose the apartment plans, and have lodged submissions against it to North Shore City Council.

“Why has consent been given to cut down a tree to make room for a driveway in a building that hasn’t been consented yet,” says Birkenhead Residents Association member Carol Scott.

She is upset consent to remove the tree was given without any public consultation.

Only the council and Mr Beca were listed as affected parties in the decision, and that’s not correct, she says.

“The tree is described as being on a public road reserve, therefore, why are the public and residents not considered affected by its loss?”

The decision to cut down the tree is similar to another at Birkenhead library in 2005, says Mrs Scott.

Then the council began knocking down the existing library, only to be denied consent to build a new one.

A redesigned library on Nell Fisher Reserve was only recently approved by the Environment Court after a two year battle.

“You’d think the council would have learnt their lesson, but apparently not,” she says.

But, Mr Beca says the decision to cut down the tree isn’t really a big deal.

He agreed to plant two other 2.5 metre titoki trees metres away from the old pohutukawa as a consent condition.

The situation is nothing like Birkenhead Library, as the community won’t lose out on anything, he says.

“They’re getting two titoki of a similar size in place of a smaller tree that never really flourished in that position.”

That trade-off will be a good one whether his planned apartments are consented or not, he says.

“If nothing happens then they get two trees, which will be better, and if it goes ahead, it will lessen the impact of the development.”

Mr Beca’s company Aptus Projects wants to build a block including 20 apartments, stacked parking and commercial users on the first floor at 83 Hinemoa St.

The high-density application is allowed despite being in a listed heritage area, because the site has a commercial zoning from its past use as a gas station.

Credits

Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times

Birkenhead library gets green light

TUMBLING DOWN: Demolition work on Birkenhead library in July 2005. Library users are unlikely to see a new library until late 2009. The Environment Court has given the go-ahead for a new Birkenhead library on Nell Fisher Reserve but it is not expected to open until late 2009.

Abraham Holdings, which owns the Rawene Chambers building, opposite the reserve, lodged the Environment Court appeal.

The appeal challenged an independent commissioners’ decision to approve the rezoning of reserve land so a library could be built.

North Shore City Council library services manager Geoff Chamberlain is pleased the appeal has now been heard and a judgement in favour of the council announced.

“There has been a library on Nell Fisher Reserve for more than 50 years and it’s the ideal place for it.

“The new purpose-built library will provide a vital community focal point in Birkenhead’s civic centre and it’s a facility that will be hugely popular with the local community,” says Mr Chamberlain.

The Birkenhead library project has suffered long delays. Demoliton of the old library had already started in 2005 when independent commissioners declined the resource consent for the project.

The library, Plunket and the Citizens Advice Bureau have been working from cramped temporary premises.

Birkenhead library and civic centre project manager Sharron Cleghorn says the council is now working with its architects to redesign the building.

Ms Cleghorn says preliminary work indicates the council should be able to build within the new zoning requirements.

The council is keen to keep the planning process as straight-forward as possible, particularly after the delays, she says.

The appeal decision restricts the building’s height at the back corner to 9 metres rather than 11 metres to protect views from a neighbouring building, she says.

A total of $6.5 million is provided in the council’s 2006-16 city plan for the capital costs of the new building and these will be revisited after detailed design work.

The building is also planned to house a Citizens Advice Bureau, Highbury Plunket and the Birkenhead area office.

Credits

Photo/s by: MIKE KNOTT
Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – The North Shore Times