Faux facade placates apartment opposition

HERITAGE DESIGN: A new design for apartments at 83 Hinemoa St, Birkenhead, has been approved.HERITAGE DESIGN: A new design for apartments at 83 Hinemoa St, Birkenhead, has been approved.

A faux heritage design has appeased concerns about the impact of a development on a Shore suburb known for its historic character.

More than 400 residents opposed an apartment block and office units at 83 Hinemoa St when the first plans were released in 2005.

Numerous design changes failed to resolve concerns about the visual impact of the multi-storey development on the surrounding houses in a protected heritage zone.

In 2009 independent hearing commissioners declined the Aptus Projects development and the company appealed the decision to the Environment Court.

Mediation talks involving the developer, North Shore City Council and residents opposing the plans have now resolved the appeal.

Aptus now has resource consent to build 11 residential units on the Hinemoa St site using a design agreed to between the parties.

Deputy mayor Julia Parfitt and councillor Vivienne Keohane represented the council at the mediation talks.

Mrs Parfitt says the key design difference is its faux heritage facade.

Other key changes include:A reduction from 20 residential units to 11Removal of commercial units at ground floorNo stacked parkingAll visitor parking to be on-siteThe building has been set back further at the intersection of Maritime Tce and Hinemoa St to improve sightlines for motoristsThe bulk and dominance of the building has been reduced by setting level two (third floor) back from the outer footprint of the building.

Birkenhead Residents Association chairman Gordon Martinsen says the new design is more in keeping with the area and there is general acceptance it will enhance Birkenhead Point.

Meanwhile Birkenhead Town Centre Association is involved with a project to celebrate the birth of the Birkenhead shops in the 1920s.

It plans to assist heritage projects like restoring the historic entrance to Birkenhead Primary.

To kick start the project the association is hosting a 1920s ball on September 11.

For tickets see Dyan Baker at the Chocolate Boutique, 27 Mokoia Rd, call 419-2450.

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Written by: LIZ WILLIS
Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times

Apartment block declined

A resounding “no” verdict has been delivered on apartment block plans for Birkenhead’s heritage zone.

Independent commissioners turned down a controversial application for 18 apartments and four businesses at 83 Hinemoa St last week.

They say the Aptus Projects development would have adverse effects which could not be “avoided, remedied or mitgated”.

Its design fails to produce a functional building despite efforts to comply with the district plan, their statement says. The decision flies in the face of North Shore City Council officers who supported Aptus Projects’
plans.

Birkenhead Residents Association member Carol Scott says it reflects poorly on the council.

It has been ill-served by the officers saying the effects of the application would be “minor”, she says.

“Hundreds of locals gave time and money to all pull together and fight for what they believe is in the best interests for the area.

“A victory for the community.”

Developer Richard Beca says he is “extremely disappointed” with the decision and is considering appealing to the Environment Court.

It is very unusual for commissioners to go against the recommendations of so many council officers, he says.

“They have found against expert evidence without countering expert evidence. It’s going to be hard for us not to challenge that.”

He worked with the council from 2005 to develop the application and employed the services of several planners.

“Where they told us to change things, we changed them. When you’ve got positive reports from council, what else do you have to do?”

North Shore mayor Andrew Williams says he is delighted the development has been declined.

It would have caused carparking and traffic woes and was ill suited to the heritage area it was in, he says.

Aptus Projects applied for 20 apartments at the former Hinemoa St petrol station in 2005 but withdrew it after 440 residents submitted in opposition.

A revived 18-apartment application again drew widespread condemnation in 2007.

More than 500 submitted against it, including heritage architect Jeremy Salmond, North Shore mayor Andrew Williams and TV chef Annabelle White.

Mr Beca requested an adjournment to the hearing to again revise his design, but that has now been turned down.

Credits

Written by: HAYDEN DONNELL
Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times

Heritage site apartments denounced

UNITED FRONT: Food critic Annabelle White, left, residents association member Warwick Jones, lawyer Bruce Stainton, and resident Carol Scott are among those opposing a proposed Birkenhead apartment block.UNITED FRONT: Food critic Annabelle White, left, residents association member Warwick Jones, lawyer Bruce Stainton, and resident Carol Scott are among those opposing a proposed Birkenhead apartment block.

People from TV cooks to North Shore’s mayor have joined forces to denounce apartment plans in a Birkenhead heritage area.

A resource consent hearing on a proposed 18 apartment and four office development at 83 Hinemoa St was adjourned on May 2.

There were 500 submitters against the development plans, including about half of the 800 local residents, says Shore mayor Andrew Williams.

None were in favour.

Among those who spoke at the hearing were well-known food critic and broadcaster Annabelle White, Carter Holt Harvey director Fraser Whineray, heritage architect Jeremy Salmond and mayor Andrew Williams.

Ms White rejected the proposed development as too high, too dominant and out of keeping with the surrounding heritage area.

She called the building “an ugly visual pollutant where something tasteful could have been proposed. Wrong style, wrong materials, wrong time period, wrong size.”

Mr Williams backed her case as an expert witness on heritage areas.

He says he does not want the apartment block to be approved during his time as mayor.

The application is only possible because of an anomaly in the district plan that saw the site zoned for business, he says.

“We only get one shot at this. We have to act now to preserve our heritage areas.”

Respected heritage architect Mr Salmond spoke against the development on behalf of Birkenhead Residents Association.

He said the proposed building does not fit with the heritage character of Birkenhead Pt and has an “uncomfortably slab-like appearance”.

The apartment design was classified as “modern non-descript” and its dimensions were described as too dominant.

Developer Aptus Projects, which is owned by Richard Beca, defended the apartment and office block plans.

Its contractor Lisa Mein of Boffa Miskell said the block fits with the “seven c’s”
of essential design qualities.

She maintains it’s in the right context, has good character, provides people choice, connects residents, has a creative design, takes good custody of the land and is a product of collaborative design.

“I am satisfied that
either building would create a landmark on the street and would make a positive contribution.”

Traffic engineers and a resource consent expert also supported the apartment proposal.

Aptus Projects first applied to put 20 apartments at 83 Hinemoa St in 2005, but withdrew its plans after 440 people submitted against them.

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Photo/s by: BEN CAMPBELL/North Shore Times
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.”

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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.

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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