It’s high-rise horror

NO WAY: Community opposition would stop high rise apartments replacing heritage houses, Kaipatiki Local Board chairwoman Lindsay Waugh and deputy chairman Nick Kearney say.NO WAY: Community opposition would stop high rise apartments replacing heritage houses, Kaipatiki Local Board chairwoman Lindsay Waugh and deputy chairman Nick Kearney say.

High rise across Auckland is being touted as a way to solve the region’s housing crisis but massive opposition is expected.

Browns Bay, Highbury, Birkenhead and Northcote, including heritage areas, are among areas said to be ripe for controversial 13 to 25-metre high apartment blocks.

Publicised court battles against high rise have been fought in each suburb and residents are already fighting a 12-storey development at Milford mall.

Takapuna and Albany, which already have numerous apartments, were last year identified by the council as playing a key role in accommodating population growth.

Auckland Council wants two-thirds of all new dwellings built in the next 30 years within existing suburbs to limit urban sprawl into rural areas.

The council’s draft Auckland Plan says 300,000 new dwellings are needed over the next 30 years.

But a new report commissioned by the council states existing zonings only allows for 45,000 to 60,000.

Substantial zone changes to allow intensive housing in the entire Auckland urban area, including coastal sectors, would be needed to reach anywhere near 300,000, the report says.

Massive opposition from residents and politicians could be expected, the report authors consultants Studio D4 and Jaxmax say.

The report suggests 14 neighbourhoods that it believes are suitable for intensive housing.

Shore areas include Browns Bay, Birkenhead/Highbury and a small part of Unsworth Heights.

Apartments of up to 25 metres are suggested for town centres and other suitable urban areas could be rezoned up to 13 metres, the report says.

“Big opportunities” for apartments also exist at Northcote Pt and Birkenhead Pt near ferry services and coastal Browns Bay town centre sites, it says.

Hibiscus-Bays Local Board chairwoman Julia Parfitt says many people will find the Browns Bay proposals alone “quite alarming”.

Doubling the height rules near the Browns Beach beachfront reserve would allow a 25-metre building to shade one of Auckland’s busiest parks, Mrs Parfitt says.

She doesn’t oppose high-rise development but says it’s essential it’s of a quality design and that infrastructure can cope.

Kaipatiki Local Board chairwoman Lindsay Waugh says it would be horrific if high-rise apartments went into North Shore’s heritage areas.

Mrs Waugh says it’s important there is debate nationally about population growth and how to accommodate it.

She doesn’t favour further urban sprawl.

Kaipatiki deputy chairman Nick Kearney says the report will go down “like a bucket of cold sick” in Birkenhead.

Concerns would include existing congestion at Onewa Rd which wouldn’t cope with a large influx in population, he says.

Mr Kearney supports more development outside urban limits.

Shore councillor Ann Hartley says the report is “theoretical” and large-scale intensive housing would not go ahead in heritage areas.

She says the council is getting more information about how to deal with growth and whether accommodating 70 percent within urban limits will work.

The council doesn’t want to see the haphazard infill housing development that happened in the past repeated, she says.

North Shore councillor George Wood says a major rethink on intensification proposals is needed.

Intensive development would have a big impact on the village atmosphere of traditional town centres like Birkenhead, Browns Bay and Milford, he says.

Howick councillor Dick Quax says he was stunned when he saw “hardly an old house left standing” in Birkenhead on maps in the report.

The impact on views, heritage, trees and Onewa Rd congestion would be enormous, he says.

“I’m not against intensification but the community needs to agree it’s a good thing for the area and it must be good quality.”

Barfoot & Thompson managing director Peter Thompson says Aucklanders still like quarter acre sections which are becoming more scarce and apartments are becoming more popular.

But he says you won’t see Surfers Paradise style development in Auckland.

Mr Thompson says well-designed apartments with a limited number of floors are in demand.

– © Fairfax NZ News

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

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